“I joined the army…to protect and serve this country, not to be part of a corrupt government that continues to arm and support terrorism”

Mayer Wakefield

Al-Babati being led away by military police from Whitehall

A British soldier from the Electronic Warfare Regiment has taken a stand against the British backed Saudi-led war on Yemen by protesting outside the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in London in full uniform. Ahmed Al-Babati was filmed with a sign beside him that read ‘I REFUSE TO CONTINUE MY MILITARY SERVICE UNTIL THE DEAL WITH SAUDI COMES TO AN END’ before being led away by military police.

According to the Instagram page of Stand for Justice, an organisation Al-Babati is said to have founded, he stood on Whitehall for ‘9 hours and 30 mins’ whistling every 10 minutes to signify the death of a child in Yemen as a result of the war.

In a pre-recorded statement Al-Babati spelled out his opposition to the continuing sale of arms to the Saudi regime:

“Yemen is facing the worst humanitarian crisis due to years of war. This proxy war is led by Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia are responsible for multiple airstrikes, killing innocents, targeting hospitals and breaking international law. Saudi Arabia are also responsible for blocking aid from going into the country.

This has left 80% of the population in need of emergency aid. That’s 24 million people in need of emergency aid. Yet our government continues to arm and support Saudi Arabia. We tried to make our voices heard by protesting in London, Manchester, Liverpool and many other cities. We’ve even tried to email our MPs, but clearly our words mean nothing to Boris Johnson.

And it’s clear this government has blood on their hands, so with that being said I refuse to continue my military service until the arms trade with Saudi Arabia has been put to an end. It is reported that a child dies every 10 minutes in Yemen, so I’ll be standing outside 10 Downing Street blowing a whistle every 10 minutes so that they can hear every time a child dies due to a war they continue to arm and support.

I joined the army in 2017 and took an oath to protect and serve this country, not to be part of a corrupt government that continues to arm and support terrorism. What made this decision so easy for me and why I choose to sacrifice a lot of things including possibly my freedom is for the simple fact that me myself as somebody that was born in Yemen I could have easily fell victim to one of those air strikes or died out of hunger. I’ve seen enough not to speak out and I’d rather sleep peacefully in a cell than stay silent for a paycheck.”

The Ministry of Defence has refused to comment on his whereabouts or wellbeing since the protest which comes against the backdrop of the UK government’s recent decision to resume arm sales to Saudi Arabia. Britain has sold £6.2 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the war in Yemen, alongside various other military and diplomatic forms of assistance.

Following the decision, the international trade secretary Liz Truss MP, said that ‘possible’ breaches of international humanitarian law were viewed by the UK government as ‘isolated incidents’. The conflict has cost an estimated 100,000 lives, led to 80 per-cent of Yemenis needing humanitarian assistance and over three million people being displaced from their homes.

Al-Babati’s protest is a courageous attempt to highlight the brutality of the war in Yemen and the hypocrisy of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Stop the War supports his actions and demands that no disciplinary action is taken against him.

26 Aug 2020

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