Amnesty International activists have taken a lifelike replica of a Eurofighter Typhoon jet – and accompanying missiles – to the Houses of Parliament this morning in protest at the UK’s continuing sale of arms to Saudi Arabia.
The week sees the fourth anniversary of the devastating conflict in Yemen, a conflict which the UK’s sale of arms – worth almost £5bn – to Saudi Arabia has helped fuel.
The replica Typhoon – measuring 2.5 metres long with a wing-span of 1.9 metres, and towed on the back of an open trailer – was driven across Westminster Bridge in central London at 11.30am, taken around Parliament Square (completing several circuits), before arriving outside the Department of International Trade in Whitehall Place.
Clearly visible beneath the lifelike Typhoon – which was painted in authentic Royal Saudi Air Force livery – were a set of replica Paveway IV missiles, shown as if actually being released by the fighter jet. The missiles displayed the message “Made in Britain, ruining lives in Yemen”. Meanwhile, on both sides of the Typhoon trailer there were banner messages saying “UK: Stop Arming Saudi Arabia”.
Since March 2015, the UK has sold more than two dozen Eurofighter Typhoons to Saudi Arabia. Last year it was announced that a further 48 UK-supplied Typhoons were likely to be bought by the Kingdom.
According to the United Nations, during the past four years at least 6,800 civilians have been killed in the Yemeni conflict (with thousands more injured), the majority as a result of Saudi Arabia-led Coalition airstrikes. These airstrikes have struck hospitals, homes, weddings, crowded market places and public transport. Amnesty has repeatedly called on the UK Government to halt arms transfers to the Coalition because of the clear risk of such arms being used in breach of human rights and international humanitarian law in Yemen.
After the replica Typhoon was driven in front of Parliament, it was taken to the Department of International Trade where a 56,000-signature petition to the Secretary of State Liam Fox was handed in by Amnesty UK Director, Kate Allen.
Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said:
“The UK is flouting its own rules on arms exports as well as international law in its continued sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.
“A growing number of countries have halted arms sales to the Saudi Kingdom because of the clear risk that weaponry will be misused in the conflict in Yemen.
“The UK, a supposed champion of international arms export rules, is becoming notorious over its arms-exporting role in the Yemen conflict.
“While UK arms companies are making money, Yemeni civilians are dying in their thousands. It’s shameful and it’s got to stop.”
Photo credit: Jon Cornejo, Amnesty International UK