Anti-war activists attempt citizens arrest on Saudi general visiting London over alleged Yemen war crimes

Ahmed Asiri described as 'mouthpiece for devastating bombing campaign'

Will Worley
Friday 31 March 2017 16:13 BST
Citizens arrest attempted on senior Saudi general in London

An anti-war demonstrator attempted to perform a citizen’s arrest on a Saudi general visiting London, over his country's alleged war crimes in Yemen.

Major General Ahmed Asiri was confronted by activist Sam Waldron, who was quickly pushed away by the soldier’s bodyguards.

British police also pulled away protesters who shouted “hands off Yemen” and attempted to block the general’s car.

Saudi ambassador gives bizarre answer to illegal Yemen cluster bombing question'It's like asking if you’ll stop beating your wife’

Video footage caught General Asiri showing protesters the middle finger.

On Twitter, the Saudi Embassy called the protests an “attempted attack”.

General Asiri was visiting London to speak at a foreign policy think tank about the ongoing civil conflict in Yemen, in which Saudi Arabia is deeply embroiled and has been accused of war crimes.

Around 7,600 people have died so far in the conflict and two million are internally displaced.

The general is a spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and a senior adviser to the Saudi Arabian Defence Minister. Last year, he denied Saudi forces had been using British made cluster bombs in Yemen, but this was later revealed to be untrue.

Cluster bombs randomly scatter explosives over a wide area, instead of a single target, greatly heightening the threat to civilians. The United Kingdom is prohibited from using the munitions in conflict but has supplied them to other countries.

Mr Walton said: “Asiri represents a regime that has killed thousands in Yemen and shown a total contempt for international law. I tried to arrest him because of the war crimes he has overseen and propagated for, but he was surrounded by bodyguards who roughly forced me away.

“Asiri shouldn’t be welcomed and treated like a dignitary, he should be arrested and investigated for war crimes.”

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said General Asiri was the “mouthpiece” for a “devastating bombing campaign”.

Mr Smith added: “He should not be getting invited to address parliamentarians and think tanks to whitewash the atrocities that are taking place.

“The voices that need to be heard are those of Yemeni people who are victims of a humanitarian catastrophe - not those that are inflicting it. If the UK is to play a positive role in bringing peace then it must end its complicity and end the arms sales.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in