FEB 25 —The Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (Centhra) welcomes the commitment of the Malaysian government to assist the Yemeni people in their facing war and famine in their country by pledging US$100,000.00 (RM400,669) to their welfare.
We also fully agree with the astute observation of our Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed on the hypocrisy of nations styling themselves bastions of human rights and democracy, Western powers such as the United States, Canada and the European Union in fanning the flames of conflict by selling billions of dollars of arms to the region.
Such an observation could not have come at a better time given that the same powers are aching for regime change in yet another sovereign state, Venezuela, and are attempting to divert the world’s attention by sending so-called “humanitarian aid” to that Latin American state while sanctioning the blockade of much needed oil revenues to its government and by extension its people. We also note France’s recent attempt to pressure its ally Germany to resume arms sales which were suspended considering the high-profile murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Kashoggi.
While calling out these nations for their duplicity and calling a spade a spade is laudable, we note that no one has alluded to the conclusions reached by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in its enquiry into the human rights situation in Yemen since September 2014 submitted to the Human Rights Council during its thirty-ninth session from 10 to 28 September 2018 and which contained the findings of the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts. The findings of this enquiry make for grim reading indeed. Various violations of human rights from attacks affecting civilians to arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture and ill treatment were recorded by these experts, whom also documented instances of sexual violence and child recruitment and use as soldiers by both sides to the conflict.
However, the striking conclusion that should not go unnoticed by the international community is that the coalition of Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Senegal, the Sudan and the UAE, led by Saudi Arabia, is responsible for a disproportionately large number of human rights violations during the course of their actions in Yemen and humanitarian disasters have occurred as a direct result thereof, and this is no doubt enabled by the large arms purchases mentioned by our Prime Minister. This is also not surprising since the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, has shown scant regard for human rights in particular the sanctity of life, with his recent deplorable comments on the detention and torture of the ethnic Uighur minority in China no doubt in appeasement of Beijing in light of the multi billion dollar trade deals concluded between the gulf kingdom and the people’s republic recently.
Evidently the fact that Saudi Arabia as well as most members of its coalition, as well as China, are parties to ICERD as well as the Geneva Conventions have no bearing on the dignity and wellbeing of the Yemeni and Uighur peoples. Centhrawishes to emphasise that the grant of humanitarian assistance in the form of monetary aid, by Malaysia or any other nation or supranational entity, must not detract from the root cause of the conflict in Yemen nor distract from the responsibilities incurred by those who are directly as well as indirectly implicated for war crimes and human rights violations in volatile regions.
However in today’s context, such assistance appears to be used as a smokescreen to obscure these violations.
In view of this, we believe that it is right that Malaysia play a role in ensuring that the international community investigate and tackle the root causes of the conflict in Yemen by acting in tandem with other members of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) We suggest that our Foreign Minister initiate this process and we stand ready to provide the government with all the necessary assistance needed in this respect, should this proposal be accepted and acted upon.
Centhra believes that a tribunal to try those committing war crimes and human rights violations would go a long way to send the right message to the Yemeni people in particular and the autocratic regimes of the world in general that violations of human rights and humanitarian needs shall and will not go unpunished in the civilised world order existing this 21st century, and therefore strongly urge that all stakeholders initiate this tribunal soonest as may be practicable.
In the meantime, Centhra agrees and adds its voice to the call by our Prime Minister that all Yemeni factions to the conflict to give peace a chance and allow the peace agreement worked out recently in Stockholm an opportunity to work, thereby bringing a speedy end to the conflict and allowing relief and aid to reach the Yemeni people. Centhra hopes that with the implementation of this agreement, human rights and humanitarian concerns might soon prevail in Yemen and the Middle East in general.
* Media statement by Centhra
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.