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A SOLDIER arrested for peacefully protesting against Britain’s involvement in the war in Yemen should be freed, peace campaigners demanded today.
Lance Corporal Ahmed Al-Babati was taken into custody by two Royal Military Police officers outside Downing Street on Monday.
He was objecting to the provision of weapons and other military equipment to Saudi Arabia by the British government, armed forces and arms companies.
In a message recorded before the protest and posted on social media, L/Cpl Al-Babati said that he could no longer continue to serve in the army, given Britain’s material support for the Saudi bombing of Yemen.
He said: “I’d rather sleep peacefully in a cell than stay silent for a pay cheque.”
The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) described his arrest as an outrageous assault on free expression and called for the soldier to be released immediately, without charge.
The PPU argued that the arrest further undermined any claim that Britain’s armed forces exist to defend democracy and human rights.
The Ministry of Defence has failed to answer questions about the grounds for L/Cpl Al-Babati’s arrest and to clarify whether he is still in custody and has been charged with a crime, the group said.
PPU campaigns manager Symon Hill said: “Three cheers for Ahmed Al-Babati. Ahmed’'s integrity and courage contrast with the knee-jerk viciousness of the military response.
“Britain should not be a country in which people are arrested for peaceful protests.
“Supporters of the armed forces like to tell us that they protect democracy and human rights.
“In reality, the UK armed forces are helping Saudi forces to attack civilians in Yemen and this arrest makes clear that the armed forces don't even respect the human rights of their own personnel. Democracy and militarism don’t mix.”
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