Antiwar activists in southern Ontario put their bodies in front of trucks at a Canadian company Monday to disrupt what organizers say is the transport of weaponry that will worsen the Western-backed war on Yemen to Saudi Arabia.
The direct action in Hamilton targeting Paddock Transport International's transport of Canadian-made tanks is one of hundreds of events taking place across the globe Monday as part of the Global Day of Action for Yemen.
The Saudi-led coalition's war on Yemen—fueled with Western-made weapons, airstrikes, and intelligence—has resulted in a six-year war and worsened what the United Nations has described as the world's worst humanitarian disaster in which millions are on the brink of famine, infrastructure is devastated, and at least 20,000 civilians have been killed.
The war in Yemen has entered its sixth, devastating year. The devastation is well documented—there is NO basis for @JustinTrudeau, @MarcGarneau, or companies that transport arms, like @PaddockTrans, to say they did not know what was happening. #CanadaStopArmingSaudi #WorldSaysNo pic.twitter.com/wvXt9BOyOd— World BEYOND War Canada (@WBWCanada) January 25, 2021
Paddock Transport is complicit in the disaster, according to organizers, because it transports General Dynamics Land Systems tanks made in the province to port where they're brought onto Saudi ships.
"Most Canadians don't realize that weapons manufactured here continue to fuel a war that has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people," Simon Black, a member of Labour Against the Arms Trade, said in a statement.
"Countries like Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden have all cancelled their weapons deals with Saudi Arabia," said Black. "There's absolutely no reason why Canada can't do the same and help end this war."
More photos from today's action...activists blocked trucks at @PaddockTrans, a Hamilton-area transportation company involved in shipping Canadian-made, light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia. #CanadaStopArmingSaudi#YemenCantWait#StopArmingSaudi pic.twitter.com/ncmc47vA39— World BEYOND War Canada (@WBWCanada) January 25, 2021
"People across Canada are demanding the federal government immediately end arms exports with Saudi Arabia and expand humanitarian aid for the people of Yemen," Rachel Small of World BEYOND War said in a statement.
"A child in Yemen dies every 10 minutes because of this horrific war. As a parent, how can I ignore that tanks made in Canada are rolling right by me on their way to the worst humanitarian situation on Earth?" said Small.
We applaud all those who organized and are participating in today’s #WorldSaysNo to war on #Yemen day of action! Now is the time to finally end U.S. complicity in Yemen’s humanitarian disaster. @JoeBiden #YemenCantWait https://t.co/a5UWsG3gLZ— FCNL (Quakers) (@FCNL) January 25, 2021
Also coming in for scrutiny Monday for its role in continuing the Saudi-led war is the U.S., with groups including the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) and CodePink urging the new Biden administration to act quickly to stop worsening Yemenis' suffering. A key way, they say, is by stopping the flow of arms.
The kingdom is the biggest recipient of U.S. arms, and Saudi Arabia is overall the world's biggest weapons importer, according to (pdf) data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Saudi Arabia's biggest arms suppliers, in order, are the U.S., U.K., and France.
SIPRI's data also suggests Western nations' arms sales are fueling the conflict that began in 2015 with weapons imports by Saudi Arabia 130 per cent higher 2015–19 compared to the previous five-year period.
With that key role in mind, CodePink singled out ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia as one of the key demands antiwar groups are addressing to Biden and other world leaders:
Join CODEPINK and over 200 organizations all across the world today (and every day) to make our message loud & clear: the world is saying NO to war on Yemen!— CODEPINK (@codepink) January 25, 2021
Tune in to the online rally today at 2 pm ET! #DayofAction4Yemen #YemenCantWait https://t.co/LgMVRlqnnA
CodePink and other critics of the Saudi-led war on Yemen amplified demands for peace with a global online rally Monday. Featuring speakers including Yanis Varoufakis and Cornell West, the virtual rally was timed, according to the event's description, to "take place just days after the inauguration of Joe Biden, who has promised to end U.S. support for the war. This is our one central aim—to hold him to his word and force fellow governments to follow suit."
Chris Nineham, founder of Stop the War Coalition, echoed those sentiments in a Monday op-ed.
"A global movement to end this war has now been launched," he wrote. "We have a chance for change, we must take it."