Geneva (GPA) – Last week, Geopolitics Alert editor Randi Nord participated in the 42nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. Nord spoke as part of an eye-opening and in-depth panel alongside well-known Gulf activists, former politicians, and journalists living in exile. Participants broke down the history of human rights (or lack thereof) in the Gulf countries and kingdoms.
Nord represented Al-Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture and Insan Organization for Human Rights and Peace at the United Nations this year. International Council for Supporting Fair Trial and Human Rights organized the panel which included prominent Yemeni, Saudi, Bahraini, and Kuwaiti dissident activists living abroad as political refugees.
- Dr. Mohammad al-Massari: An exiled Saudi researcher and human rights activist.
- Mr. Najeeb al-Ashmory: A prominent Yemeni journalist and human rights activist living in Lebanon.
- Mr. Ali al-Aswad: A former MP in Bahrain who left the country after his home was targeted by security forces; prominent member of Alwefaq Society Bahrain.
- Dr. Abdul Hameed Dashti: Former Kuwait MP living in exile and president of International Council Supporting Fair Trial and Human Rights.
- (Moderator) Dr. Fouad Ibrahim: Deputy President of International Council Supporting Fair Trial and Human Rights.
Below is Ms. Nord’s portion of the panel. She highlighted Saudi imperialism infringing on Yemen’s political right to self-determination and how the United States and Saudi Arabia share a similar history in regards to genocide. She also covered the devastating and illegal blockade which violates Yemen’s access to water, food, safety, and financial stability.
We have an English subtitled video of the entire panel in the works so you can hear the other panelists’ important discussions. Stay tuned later this week!
Transcript of talk:
For about the past five years, a coalition consisting of some of the world’s most powerful countries have created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Key offenders include the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. On a daily basis, Yemenis face three dire threats from coalition airstrikes, ground artillery and shelling from mercenaries, and a devastating land, sea, and air blockade. For Yemenis living in southern provinces, they also face torture similar to Abu Ghraib at 18 secret Emirati-run prisons as well as rampant rape. So Yemenis have to take their pick of a brutal military occupation, al-Qaeda, and torture in the South, or Saudi coalition airstrikes and blockade in the North. I’ve heard from many Yemenis who have chosen to take their chances with the airstrikes and fled the south for this reason.
You don’t hear this perspective mentioned often, but the United States, which on the surface claims to support democracy and human rights, has made an active decision to suppress democracy and the will of the people in Yemen by providing weapons, intelligence, and logistical support to reactionary monarchies and repressive dictatorships with some of the worst human rights track records in the entire world.
According to the UN, roughly 22 million Yemenis require urgent humanitarian aid. That’s a majority of Yemen’s 29 million population. Essentially, the coalition has turned Yemen into an open-air prison with Saudi Arabia taking notes directly out of the Israeli playbook with the blockade, attacks on water supplies, prohibiting civilian travel, bombing ancient treasures and archeological sites, destruction of agriculture, trampling the economy by seizing and moving the central bank. The Saudi coalition isn’t just using starvation and disease as weapons of war through these tactics, they’re trying to cripple Yemen for generations.
I talk to so many young Yemenis who just feel hopeless. Many are in school but with public sector workers not receiving salaries due to the closure of the central bank, that means employment options are limited.
The UN panel of expert reports routinely calls on “all parties” of the conflict to stop interfering with the distribution of aid. However, the main hindrance to food and medicine entering the country is the blockade! Yemen needs to import 80% of food and medical supplies. It was recently revealed that the Saudi coalition has arbitrarily detained at least 13 ships filled with gasoline, food, and medical supplies. These ships had already docked in Africa and been inspected by the coalition themselves. Every ship destined for Hodeidah has to be searched by Saudi authorities before it can enter. These ships were searched, cleared to dock in Hodeidah, and then detained. There’s no other reason for this except to create a humanitarian crisis.
It the same reason we see routine coalition bombings on water treatment facilities. The coalition doesn’t want Yemenis to have access to clean water which is absolutely a human right. Instead, they would prefer that Yemenis contract cholera – an ancient illness – and die. In 2017, over a million Yemenis contracted cholera for this exact reason and they haven’t stopped targeting water supplies.
I haven’t even mentioned the airstrikes yet. Which serve no purpose except to inflict terror on the Yemeni people by bombing large gatherings like funerals, weddings, school buses filled with children, hospitals, and so on. Just a few weeks ago, the coalition bombed a prison killing over 100 of their own fighters because they didn’t want to go through with a prisoner exchange with the Sanaa government. Not to mention, the Saudi coalition uses a disturbing double-tap tactic that involves bombing a civilian home or market, waiting for ambulances and press to arrive, and then targeting those first responders.
Again, the UN panel of experts has determined that these attacks on civilians are intentional due to the coalition’s use of precision-guided smart weapons. Yet, today, here we are listening to world leaders and media outlets complain about the oil supply while over 22 million are either killed and starved.