Yemen war: Workers refuse to load Saudi weapons ship in protest over conflict

‘We will not be complicit in what is happening,’ union says

Zamira Rahim@ZamiraRahim
Thursday 23 May 2019 18:06
Protesters in front of Bahri Yanbu, a Saudi cargo ship
Protesters in front of Bahri Yanbu, a Saudi cargo ship

Italian unions have refused to load two electricity generators onto a Saudi Arabian ship, to protest against the middle eastern country's role in the Yemen war.

The Bahri-Yanbu ship loaded arms in Antwerp earlier this month before pulling into port in Genoa.

Unions in the northern Italian city initially lobbied to have the vessel banned, but their efforts failed and the Bahri-Yanbu docked there earlier this week.

It was met by protesters. One carried a sign which read “no to war”.

Union workers then refused to load the generators.

“We will not be complicit in what is happening in Yemen,” the group’s leaders said in a statement.

The workers said that although the generators were marked for civilian use, there was a risk they would instead be redirected to Yemen.

Port officials said non-critical goods were loaded but the generators were left on the quay.

At least 6,872 people are believed to have died in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which began in 2015. A further 10,768 civilians have been wounded. Most of the casualties were killed or injured in Saudi-led airstrikes, prompting international condemnation.

The war has also left much of the surviving population on the brink of famine.

The Bahri-Yanbu was also met with a hostile reception in France in early May when it docked in the Normandy port of Le Havre.

The vessel left without a cargo of weapons on 9 May, after a rights group ACAT tried to block the cargo on humanitarian grounds.

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The group argued in a legal challenge that the consignment should be halted, as it contravened a United Nations treaty.

Although a judge threw out the case the ship left shortly afterwards without the cargo.

The Bahri-Yanbu has now left Italy and is en route to Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia.

Additional reporting by agencies

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