A serving British soldier was arrested by the Royal Military Police on Monday after protesting in uniform against Britain’s support for Saudi Arabia in the Yemen war. Yemen-born Lance Corporal Ahmed Al-Babati was filmed in Whitehall outside the Ministry of Defence before being taken away by three military police officers.
Al-Babati joined the British Army in 2017. He described the British government as having “blood on its hands” with lucrative arms sales to Saudi Arabia. According to a report in the Telegraph, he is a member of the Royal Signals and vowed to blow a whistle every ten minutes to represent how often a child is said to be killed in the conflict.
“Yemen is facing the worst humanitarian crisis… due to years of war,” the soldier explained. “This proxy war is led by Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is responsible for multiple air strikes, killing innocents, targeting hospitals and breaking international law.”
Despite the devastating five-year war which has left 80 per cent of the population in need of humanitarian aid, Al-Babati pointed out, “Our government continues to arm and support Saudi Arabia. We tried to make our voices heard by protesting in London, Manchester, Liverpool and many other cities. We’ve even tried to email our MPs, but clearly our words mean nothing to Boris Johnson.”
Activists and supporters are demanding his release. The Ministry of Defence is yet to comment on what has happened to him since being arrested or where he is being held, reports Declassified UK.
“I would rather sleep peacefully in a cell than stay silent for a pay cheque,” Al-Babati is quoted as saying.
The Queen’s Regulations for the Army permit serving personnel to participate in public protests as private citizens as long they follow certain rules. Individuals are not allowed to wear uniform during a protest, for example, and cannot identify themselves as a member of the Armed Forces. The army cannot be linked to any political movements through a serving individual’s actions in order to maintain the army’s political neutrality and impartiality.