Twelve children and three women were killed when the bus they were riding in was bombed. This tragic event took place in the fall of 2016 in Yemen and was covered widely in the international media.
It is also one of many attacks in the war in Yemen described in “Day of Judgment: The Role of the US and Europe in Civilian Death, Destruction, and Trauma in Yemen,” a report published today.
The report, a joint effort by Yemen-based Mwatana for Human Rights, the US-based University Network for Human Rights, and PAX, documents the role of US and European weapons in the Saudi/UAE-led Coalition’s ongoing military campaign in Yemen.
“I reached the area of the incident right after the bombing and I saw a very horrible sight that is hard to imagine,” recalls one relative of the victims of the bus attack as cited in today’s report. “The body parts of the victims were all over the place. We would find a hand here and a foot there—all over the surrounding plants and trees—and we started collecting the body parts. People from neighboring areas came to help us collect the body parts.”
Pattern of deadly attacks
Twenty-seven attacks documented by Mwatana for Human Rights between April 2015 and April 2018 killed at least 203 civilians, including at least 122 children, and injured nearly 750. These attacks involved weapons that were most likely produced in the United States and/or the United Kingdom. The attacks struck homes, schools, businesses, farms, a health clinic, a government administration building, and a celebration hall.
“It is clear that Saudi and Emirati promises to minimize harm to civilians were empty,” said Radhya al-Mutawakel, Chairperson of Mwatana for Human Rights. “This report demonstrates a pattern of deadly coalition attacks involving weapons provided by western states, particularly the United States. The US, UK, and others should immediately halt arms transfers and all other forms of assistance to coalition forces for use in Yemen.”
Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and UAE have led a military coalition against Ansar Allah rebels in Yemen. The coalition has indiscriminately attacked civilians as well as civilian infrastructure, such as hospitals and schools, and blocked the imports of food and medical supplies.
About 50,000 people have been killed during the war, and 85,000 children have died of hunger according to UNICEF. Western countries have played a crucial role in the war through supplying weapons. Despite ongoing coalition abuses, the US continues to sell Saudi Arabia and the UAE weapons for use in Yemen, in violation of domestic and international law. The UK, too, continues arms sales in violation of its obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty and EU Common Position on military exports.
In fact, the US, the UK and France have accelerated their arms sales to the UAE and Saudi Arabia during the conflict. From 2013 till 2017, these two countries were the largest importers of US weapons. They also benefit from US logistical support and military training.
Mwatana for Human Rights
Mwatana is an independent organization that advocates for human rights through the documentation of violations, provision of legal support to victims, lobbying, awareness raising, and capacity building. PAX believes that the difficult and dangerous work that its partner Mwatana undertakes in Yemen is crucial to achieve justice and amplify the voices of those who have suffered so much because of the war. Reports such as this one are immensely valuable to that process.
Information from Mwatana’s report was featured in a recent CNN report “Made in America”.