Urging UK to End Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia and Saudis to End Their Bombing Campaign in Yemen


Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, Peace People – TRANSCEND Media Service

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Press Release – 23 Mar 2016

Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairead Maguire, today called for Britain to stop breaking national and international law by selling arms o Saudi Arabia.  Britain has sold £2.8 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the Saudi government began its bombing campaign in Yemen last year.  The British Government is also providing direct military assistance to Saudi Arabia and continues to remain silent on the UN reports of Saudi war crimes against the civilian population of Yemen.   Thousands of people have died and millions of Yemeni people are going hungry and thousands of children out of school as their schools, homes and towns, have been destroyed in the course of the ongoing bombing of Yemen.

Maguire called on UK citizens to write to their MPs encouraging them to sign the Early day motion 1170 and support the implementation of the European Parliament’s call for an arms embargo to Saudi Arabia.  Maguire also called on the Saudi government to stop bombing Yemen and enter into dialogue and negotiations to solve Yemen’s terrible human tragedy.

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Mairead said, “People have the power to stop weapons going to governments that use them to carry out invasions and occupations and wars against other countries.  We have a moral and ethical responsibility to do all we can to stop WAR and arms sales. Also to put out of business a Military Industrial Complex that destroys peoples’ lives and environments causing millions of people to flee from their homes to find safety in other countries in Europe and elsewhere. We know that sending arms and wars to other countries means more and more refugees. We have witnessed this on our television screens – it is time to end this madness of militarism and war wherever we live.”


The Peace People began in 1976 as a protest movement against the ongoing violence in Northern Ireland. Its three founders were Mairead Maguire, Betty Williams and Ciaran McKeown. Over 100,000 people were involved in the initial movement and two of the founders, Mairead and Betty, received the Nobel Peace Prize for that year. Since its inception, the organization has been committed to building a just, peaceful society through nonviolent means – a society based on respect for each individual, and that has at its core the highest standards of human and civil rights.

Mairead Corrigan Maguire, co-founder of Peace People, is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. She won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her work for peace in Northern Ireland. Her book The Vision of Peace (edited by John Dear, with a foreword by Desmond Tutu and a preface by the Dalai Lama) is available from www.wipfandstock.com. She lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. See: www.peacepeople.com.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 28 Mar 2016.

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3 Responses to “Urging UK to End Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia and Saudis to End Their Bombing Campaign in Yemen”

  1. Dear Mairead,

    You know how much I admire your work and what you write. In fact, the piece you specially wrote for the launch of my international Movement HUFUD (Humanity United for Universal Demilitarization) was not only read at the official HUFUD launch in May last year in Harrogate (Yorkshire, UK) but again six month later at our big rally in the London historic landmark Trafalgar Square.

    This is why, with all affection and respect for you and for what you stand for, I am somehow surprised at this new piece, published by your own Peace People organization on 23 March and reproduced by TMS today.

    I ask you: “what difference will it make to military activity in the Middle East and to the mass exodus of Middle Eastern desperate victims, if European Parliament implemented an embargo on military sales to Saudi Arabia? the United States of America not only do not operate under European Parliament dictates, but a few years ago signed a FORTY BILLION dollar contract with Saudi Arabia, for supplying military paraphernalia, including training of Saudi murdering personnel.

    Imagine for a moment Saudi Arabia was not only embargoed by Europe, but also by America, China, Israel, etc; even imagine Saudi Arabia disappearing from the Earth altogether, will this bring Peace to the people of Yemen? NO !!! our manufacturers of Death Toys will simply be helped by our Governments to find new markets. The situation will be exactly the same, only that, instead of seeing Saudi princes at 10 Downing Street and Buckingham Palace, we will see more Royalty and political authorities from Qatar, Oman, Kuwait or the United Arab Emirates.

    Dear Mairead, no matter from which angle, from which perspective, we look at how to achieve Peace, Justice and Human Rights for all and hunger for no one, it is more than obvious that arms embargoes are not the way. I’m reminded of the war between Lebanon and Israel at the time US had placed an embargo on American military sales to Lebanon. What happened? USA sold to Lebanon under the table, previous agreement that all miltary paraphernalia will be shipped to Syria, from where, between the American Embassies in Damascus and Beyrouth Lebanon, transport of the American killing toys will reach the Hezbollah fighters.

    Whilst we allow the world to produce and sell arms, to train armies, to speak of Peace is a waste of time. OK, you can achieve Peace in a country at war, but this only means you have to create a conflict elsewhere. If you have a butcher shop in a town where all residents decided to become vegetarians, you have no alternative that to take your business elsewhere.

    Military manufacturers and their partners (Banks, politicians, Media barons, etc) work on the same principles.


  2. rosemerry says:

    Of course everyone should stop arms making arms sales and wars, but each country has an obligation to stop itself, and if we waited for the USA we would never start. They care as little for international law and for peace as Israel does. We must start somewhere, and the UK is a good start. France too please!!

  3. Rosemerry, If the UK and France stopped arms making and selling, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Poland, Switzerland, Russia, China, India, Brazil, Canada, Italy and Spain will be over the moon, elated. All these countries are “in the Business”, just as USA and Israel. If the UK and France stopped manufacturing and selling military paraphernalia, nothing will change, except that UK and France will become great “buyers”, as governments must justify the existence of a Defense Ministry and Armed Forces.

    When Ayatollah Khomeini took control of Iran, after the Sha had relaxed the drinking Laws, he didn’t say “The Law says Muslims don’t drink alcohol, so I think everyone “should stop” drinking, suggesting which town should stop drinking first, with “we must start somewhere”. It would have been an impossible route, as other towns would have decided to continue drinking. The Law changed and applied to the entire nation.

    Demilitarization must be “of the world”; all countries, small and large, rich and poor, at once. Only the Police should carry weapons, for society’s security. We’ll always have burglars, thieves, rapists, pickpockets, shop-lifters, murderers, reckless drivers, etc.
    A Policeman with a stun-gun can keep the order and make arrests when necessary. Courts and prisons can do the rest.