US Arms Producers Sued by Yemenis for Allegedly Assisting in War Crimes in Troubled Nation
Several Yemeni citizens have brought forth a legal case in the United States against prominent US-based arms manufacturers such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics. The plaintiffs have accused these companies of "aiding and abetting war crimes and extrajudicial killings" by providing weapons to the Saudi-led coalition involved in the Yemen conflict.
The lawsuit, filed in the district court of Washington DC, also names the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed bin Salman and Mohammed bin Zayed, respectively, as well as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin.
“Year after year, the bombs fell – on wedding tents, funeral halls, fishing boats and a school bus – killing thousands of civilians and helping turn Yemen into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” the lawsuit read.
“Weapons supplied by US companies through sales unlawfully approved by US officials, allowed Saudi Arabia and the UAE through the named Defendant officials to pursue an indiscriminate and brutal bombing campaign,” it continued.
The plaintiffs are seven Yemeni individuals who say they represent the victims of two separate Saudi-led bombings in the country – one for a wedding in 2015 and another for a funeral in 2016.
In October 2015, the al-Sanabani family was readying to celebrate a relative’s wedding when a warplane bombed the area, killing 43 people, including 13 women and 16 children.
One year later, in October 2016, a crowded funeral was bombed and more than 100 people were killed. International human rights organizations reported at the time that the bomb used was the US-manufactured GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb.
“I found him under a burning car, he was dead, his legs were cut off, and his right hand was cut off too, he was completely burnt,” Khaled Ali Salem Chaib, one of the plaintiffs, said in a statement detailing the death of his son from the wedding bombing in 2015.
“Some nights when I sleep, I feel tight in my body, and I have disturbing nightmares and I can’t bear to see the scene of the crime since,” he said.
The Yemeni plaintiffs are filing the lawsuit under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) – a 1991 US law that allows victims of torture to sue for compensation from their tormenters if the accused are in the US.
The lawsuit names the Saudi and Emirati crown princes under the Alien Tort Statute, a law that grants federal courts jurisdiction over violations of international law.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by Terrence Collingsworth of International Rights Advocates, comes more than a month after the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) in January said it would be taking legal action against the British government over its arms sales to Saudi Arabia during the ongoing war in Yemen.
Meanwhile, the Yemen Executive Mine Action Center (YEMAC) said in a statement that 12 civilians were killed and 34 others injured throughout last month as a result of explosive remnants of the Saudi-led aggression.
Many areas in Yemeni provinces have been bombarded by the Saudi-led military coalition with cluster bombs, while many of those internationally-banned munitions are still scattered among farms and roads, and their victims are in dozens, YEMAC noted.
The center further noted that the number of Yemenis who have fallen victim to cluster bombs since the beginning of the Saudi war on Yemen now stands at over 25,000 civilians.
It stressed that landmines and other remnants of the war pose a serious threat to the residents of many districts and areas in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states, launched a devastating war on Yemen in March 2015.
The objective was to crush the popular Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen, and reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.
The Saudi-led coalition has failed to achieve any of its objectives. Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis have been killed. Yemen is witnessing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis now.