TWO British peace campaigners were arrested yesterday as they tried to disarm war planes bound for Saudi Arabia.
The Rev Dan Woodhouse and Quaker activist Sam Walton were arrested and taken to Blackpool police station after entering weapons manufacturer BAE Systems’ Warton site.
The planes are due to fly out to the despotic Gulf kingdom, which is leading a coalition conducting a bloody military campaign in Yemen, in the next few weeks.
The action came 21 years after three women entered the same airbase to disarm a plane being sent to Indonesia to be used in the genocide in East Timor.
Lancashire Police confirmed that two people had been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and that officers were investigating.
Methodist minister Mr Woodhouse said ahead of the action: “Stopping or even delaying Saudi Arabia having more planes with which to bomb Yemen would save innocent lives and prevent war crimes.
“We are clear that the real crime taking place is arming despots who frequently use arms on their own people, are known to use torture and the death penalty and who will almost certainly be using the planes sent from BAE Warton to continue to commit crimes against humanity.”
Mr Walton said government inaction over arms sales to Saudi Arabia gave protesters no option but to try and disarm the planes.
He added: “We have been active in opposing the arms trade to Saudi Arabia for years and, in the face of wilful government denial that there is a problem with arming Saudi — including willingness to suspend our own due process of law — and complete unwillingness to consider stopping arming Saudi Arabia, we must take this action.”
An estimated 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since March 2015 and the fighting has triggered a humanitarian crisis there: on Thursday UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien told the security council that 18.8 million people — two thirds of the population — required humanitarian and protection assistance, and two million were internally displaced.
Britain has been condemned for selling more than £3 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia despite international rights organisations accusing the Saudis of war crimes and targeting civilians.
Prime Minister Theresa May ignored calls from two parliamentary committees in October for the government to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia pending an inquiry.
Campaign Against Arms Trade has requested a judicial review, which will be heard in the High Court in February.
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