Yemeni activists and supporters demand end to ‘War on Yemen’ on global day of action following a teach-in by CDSA
Dozens of activists from the women’s peace group CODEPINK, Chicago Area Peace Action, Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, and Chicago Committee against War and Racism rallied in downtown Chicago at Federal Plaza on Monday evening, demanding the Biden administration move forward with policies that will end the war in Yemen during his first 100 days in office.
The rally in the frigid cold was part of a global day of action, with demonstrations taking place across the country — including in New York, New Jersey; and San Francisco — while the former U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and actor and activist Danny Glover headlined an online rally. Supporters took to social media to show their solidarity by using hashtags such as #YemenCantWait and #WorldSaysNo to war on Yemen.
The United Nations has called the Yemen war the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The U.S.-Saudi-led military coalition and blockade of Yemen by Houthi rebels has killed more than 200,000 people and devastated the country. Yemen is mired in a brutal civil war between the Iranian-backed Yemeni Houthis and its Saudi Arabian-backed, internationally recognized government since 2014.
The Chicago Democratic Socialists of America held a virtual teach-in on Saturday leading up to the rally that featured Yemeni guest speakers and activists calling for an end to U.S. support of the Saudi-United Arab Emirates coalition’s military war in Yemen.
“There is now 16 million people living on the brink of famine in Yemen, millions of cases of cholera— it is the worst place to be a child,” said teach-in guest speaker Hassan El-Tayyab, legislative manager for Middle East policy with Friends Committee on National Legislation, or FCNL.
“COVID-19 is devastating the country, it has one of the highest fatality rates in the word,” El-Tayyab said. “Fifty percent of the hospitals have either been closed or don’t have full access to medical supplies.”
More than 3.6 million people have been forced to flee their homes and 24 million are in dire need of humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations. Yemen relies on international aid for 90% of its food supply, but the war has destroyed public infrastructure and services, such as hospitals and schools, blocking access to humanitarian aid.
The United States, long-term allies with Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have provided arms to the Saudis in addition to other military, political and logistical support in the war against the Houthis.
Danaka Katovich, Yemen campaign coordinator for CODEPINK: Women for Peace, wants a stop to all U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen. CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end U.S.-funded wars and occupations.
“I would like to see the Biden administration end all U.S. support for the war in Yemen and end arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition,” Katovich said. “The Saudi-UAE coalition has attacked and bombed civilians, weddings and funerals. We also want to restore all humanitarian and food aid to Yemen, including the USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) assistance, that was cut by President (Donald) Trump at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Afrah Nasser, a Yemen researcher in the Middle East and North Africa Division at the Human Rights Watch and second guest speaker at Saturday’s teach-in, said the hardest part of this crisis to her is that civilians have been deliberately targeted.
“The U.S. is complicit in so many war crimes and human rights abuses in Yemen,” Nasser said. “The Human Rights Watch has documented at least 25 unlawful airstrikes done with U.S.-made weapons, and it is so disappointing that today there has been no credible investigation.”