Lance Corporal Ahmed Al-Babati posted a video online protesting against Saudi Arabia’s ‘war crimes’ against Yemen.
He then went to London to protest outside the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, London earlier today.
Wearing full on military kit he held placards which said ‘I refuse to continue my military service until the deal with Saudi Arabia comes to and end.’
He was then arrested and seen be led away by ‘red cap’ Royal Military Police.
“It’s clear this govt has blood on their hands, so with that being said I refuse to cont my military service until arms trade with Saudi Arabia has been put to an end.” Ahmed Al-Babati, LCPL, British Army, protests opposite Downing Street. Aug 24th #GIResistance #YemenCantWait pic.twitter.com/ya5SnoVlmA
— About Face: Veterans Against the War (@VetsAboutFace) August 25, 2020
Al-Babati said he was born in Yemen and joined the British army in 2017. Al-Babati wore combat uniform with insignia suggesting he is a lance corporal from the 14 Signals Regiment (Electronic Warfare).
The unit is part of the Royal Corps of Signals which has close connections with the Saudi Arabian National Guard, a body which protects the ruling Saud family and is supported by a permanent British military mission.
Explaining his reasons for the protest, Al-Babati said: “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.”
On 7 July, the UK government resumed licensing new arms sales to Saudi Arabia, claiming there was “not a clear risk” of British weapons being used for war crimes. At least 20 Yemeni children have been killed in airstrikes since that decision was taken.
Al-Babati continued: “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.”
Lance Corporal Al-Babati said he had started an organisation called Stand For Justice (SJF) “to make the world a better place”.
He will be investigated and possibly charged by the British military.
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