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Hands off Yemen

Hands off Yemen. Photo: Alisdare Hickson / Wikimedia Commons / cropped from original / CC BY-SA 2.0, license linked at bottom of article

Students held a mass rally as part of an internationally-coordinated day of action to stop the war on Yemen, reports Minnie Life

On Monday, an international day of action for Yemen took place. As part of the day’s events London Students for Yemen held an online student meeting ahead of the global online rally to discuss the horrific situation, why it is happening and how students can get involved in the fightback.

The war in Yemen began in 2014, after an uprising against the Yemini government escalated into a proxy war involving powerful Middle Eastern political forces. It has since grown into the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet, with men women and children being killed in unrelenting airstrikes, as well as suffering from high levels of poverty and starvation. This has all been hugely enabled by the British sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, something that anti-war activists across the globe have demanded an end of for many years now.

It is crucial therefore that meetings such as these go ahead, where we can discuss the situation and what we can be doing to help. An excellent line up of speakers spoke on the topic, including Counterfire’s own Lucy Nichols who stressed how deeply engrained our higher education system is with the Military-Industrial Complex. It is important to remember how students are lured into placements and jobs at weapons companies such as BAE Systems, thereby creating a pipeline of students going on to work for these deeply corrupt businesses. This is something that occurs on campuses across the U.K. Lucy argued that university students must hold their university to account on these matters, and to always remember that students have had a long-running stake in anti-war causes dating all the way back to World War 2.

Dr David Wearing from Soas elaborated on these topics, brilliantly explaining the complicity of the British Government in this crisis. He focused heavily on arming students with the facts to fight back against the misreporting of Britain’s dealings with the Saudi regime - something he argued was a crucial part of fighting back against these injustices.

Molly Mulready was up next, discussing specifically the legality of Britain’s arms trading with Saudi Arabia. As a former lawyer at the foreign office, working very closely with people like Boris Johnson regarding the sale of arms, her insight was unique and extremely compelling. She also opened her speech with a plea to students, asking them to stick to their morals throughout their future career choices, as it is something she wishes she had done sooner.

In a similar fashion, Ahmed Al-Batati gave a moving account of his decision to quit the British army after learning more about what they were doing Yemen, his country of birth. He stressed how important campaigns fighting to bring about justice for Yemen are, and how important student involvement is. He implored students to keep fighting, reminding us that we have more power than we think we do.

The meeting then moved onto its final speaker, Andrew Feinstein, director of Shadow World Investigations and former MP under Nelson Mandela. He spoke passionately about the wealth gained by the political elite via the Military-Industrial Complex and how our world has become overwhelmingly and dangerously militarised. The sad reality is that our party-political systems have become heavily reliant upon the trading of arms and the wealth that is generated through that. Therefore, Andrew argued that enough is enough, we now need to be drawing an ethical line in the sand and fighting back against this corruption.

So how can we fight back? The main takeaways from the meeting were to get involved in anti-war activism and start putting pressure on our government however you can. This can be done in numerous ways; holding meetings; raising awareness; protesting; writing to MPs; investigating your university’s involvement with arms companies; equipping yourself with knowledge. All of these things will take us one step closer to ending this horrific situation and holding our government as well as many others to account. These systems have gone unchecked for far too long, and it’s about time that changed.

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