Amnesty protests France’s arms sales to Saudi, UAE

Activists hold demonstration in capital Paris, call on France to ban arms export to Saudi Arabia, UAE

Shweta Desai   | 25.02.2021
Amnesty protests France’s arms sales to Saudi, UAE


Amnesty International on Thursday held a protest demonstration in Paris, calling on France to ban arms export to Saudi Arabia and the UAE over violations of human rights in Yemen.

The demonstration, which will continue every Thursday until March 25, is part of a campaign to mark the 6 years of conflict in Yemen and to highlight France’s complicity in the world's worst humanitarian crisis, Amnesty France said on its website.

Protesters were holding banners with slogans reading “silence we’re arming”, “French hypocrisy” and “Yemen can’t wait.”

The rights group said the objective of the weekly demonstrations is to raise awareness among the general public “about the risks of French arms sales and the impunity that surrounds them.”

By continuing arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the main countries involved in this conflict, it said, France is “running the risk of its war material being used against civilians.”

Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014, when Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

A Saudi-led coalition aimed at reinstating the Yemeni government has worsened the situation, causing one of the world’s worst man-made humanitarian crises with 233,000 people killed, nearly 80% or about 30 million needing humanitarian assistance and protection, and more than 13 million in danger of starving to death, according to UN estimates.

In 2017, the European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution calling for an EU arms embargo against Saudi Arabia.

The following year, several French parliamentarians called for an inquiry into the sales of French arms to the actors of the conflict in Yemen.

While the demand was not met and France did not suspend arms exports to Gulf countries participating in Yemen, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly launched a fact-finding mission on the control of arms exports.

The mission submitted its report, also known as the Maire-Tabarot report, to the National Assembly in November 2020, calling for parliamentary control over arms sales.

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