The opposition to Britain’s role in facilitating the destruction of Yemen spilled onto the streets of London for a second week, reports Maddalena Dunscombe
After the BBC recently reported the scale of the deaths of Yemeni children due to coronavirus, there was outrage. On Sunday, hundreds gathered outside the BBC on Portland Place to march for Yemen and to call for an end to the UK’s complicity in the catastrophe.
The protest was quiet to begin with and the grief was palpable. As the crowd grew, so did the chants and then there were a number of speeches before the march set off. One passionate female speaker said clearly, ‘the UK has blood on their hands’.
Many people there had relatives in Yemen who had died at the hands of the Saudi Coalition – backed by the USA, France and of course the UK. Earlier in the week, the UK announced it would be resuming arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
One speaker spoke out against the ways in which Middle Eastern countries were labelled as terrorist, ending his speech in a sentence which caused an eruption from all who listened: “The only terrorists are white men in suits!”
The protest moved through Oxford Circus down to through Berkeley Square – where many shoppers stopped to view the protest, some taking pictures and videos. At the Saudi Embassy the protest was sheltered for the first time under the shade of a large tree, where the protesters stopped for a minute’s silence.
The speakers in the second section outlined the ways in which imperialist countries have sought wars in the Middle East. The crowd cheered and chanted both for Yemen and Palestine as well as Afghanistan and Iraq alike. “Free Palestine, Free Yemen, Free Iraq…”
The energy kept up to this level even towards the end of a protest particularly by young activists with a deep connection to this crisis. The protest continued in big numbers to the UAE Embassy, then Parliament Square where they joined up with the weekly Black Lives Matter protest and then on to Downing Street.
Once at Downing Street, the police ushered the protesters to the opposite side of the street where the protest organisers climbed up the steps of the buildings and waved the Yemeni flags.
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