UK-Saudi jet raiders released on bail after daring disarm attempt

Nathanael Williams

Anti-war activists attempt to disarm UK-Saudi planes as May puts Turkey and Gulf monarchies at heart of her post-Brexit trade strategy

A PAIR OF ACTIVISTS who tried to disarm BAE fighter jets headed for Saudi Arabia at the weekend have been released on bail today (Monday 30 January).

Daniel Woodhouse, a Methodist minister from Leeds and Sam Walton a Quaker activist have both been released on bail pending charges after breaking into British Aerospace Engineering’s (BAE) Warton warehouse.

The news comes as UK Prime Minister Theresa May returned after completing a £100m arms deal with Turkey and the US President, Donald J Trump, rang Saudi King Salman to confirm cooperation on military and intelligence affairs.

“UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen are immoral and illegal.” Andrew Smith

Responding to their release, the Reverend Daniel Woodhouse and Sam Walton said: “BAE security found us just meters from warplanes bound for Saudi Arabia. We’re gutted that we couldn’t disarm a plane and stop it being used to carry out airstrikes in Yemen. We could have saved lives by preventing Saudi war crimes in Yemen.

“The UK government has blood on its hands and we need to do everything we can to stop the transfer of weapons and show these sales are illegitimate. By providing weapons and support Britain is deeply complicit in Saudi war-crimes, and it’s vital that we bring an end to this immoral, abhorrent trade.”

The pair were arrested at BAE Systems’ airbase in Lancashire, on Sunday morning attempting to disarm fighter jets due to be delivered to the Royal Saudi Airforce for attacks on Yemen. The fight jets are part of a multi-billion pound deal between BAE Systems and the Saudi regime facilitated by the UK Government.

Many campaigners have expressed outrage at the numerous human rights abuses perpetrated by the Saudi regime with the tactic backing of the UK Government. In April of last year, the UK Government finally admitted that UK personnel were back of a supervisory tram present when Saudi coalition forces made strikes on Yemen target causing the deaths of hundreds of civilians.

“The UK government has blood on its hands and we need to do everything we can to stop the transfer of weapons and show these sales are illegitimate.” Daniel Woodhouse & Sam Walton

A panel of UN experts has also criticised Saudi-led airstrikes stating they had caused “a humanitarian catastrophe” and was part of “a broader policy of attrition against civilian infrastructure” which may “amount to war crimes.”

The anti-arms trade organisation Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has filed a legal challenge in the High Court questioning the legality of the arms deals negotiated with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Judicial Review will be held from the 7 to the 9 February in which CAAT hopes to get the UK government to suspend all licences and arms exports to Saudi Arabia. 

Chief spokesperson for CAAT Andrew Smith, commented on the case saying: “UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen are immoral and illegal. Next week’s Judicial Review will set an important precedent and could be instrumental in ending the UK government’s complicity in the destruction of Yemen.

We are always hearing about the UK government’s commitment to human rights and democracy, but almost every time that commitment is tested it is exposed as a hollow charade. If Theresa May and her colleagues care about those suffering in Yemen then they must end the arms sales and their uncritical political support for the Saudi regime.”

Picture courtesy of CAAT

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