OpenLetter to the British Ambassador in Yemen

Off. Brief an Botschafter Über Gewalt gegen Frauen im Jemen zu schreiben und die brutale Gewalt wegzulassen, die der von der eigenen Regierung befeuerte Krieg mit sich bringt, ist Heuchelei
Bei diesem Beitrag handelt es sich um ein Blog aus der Freitag-Community

Edmund Fitton-Brown, der britische Botschafter im Jemen (tatsächlich residiert er aber zur Zeit in Raid in Saudi-Arabien), hat zum „Internationalen Tag zur Beseitigung von Gewalt gegen Frauen“ am 25. November 2015 auf dem Blog des britischen Außenministeriums einen Text veröffentlicht, der sich besonders der Frauen im Jemen annimmt. Es ist nicht Neues, dass gerade in einem Land wie Jemen die Frauen jede Menge Unterdrückung, Benachteiligung und Gewalt erfahren – insoweit ist der Text von Fitton-Brown in jedem Wort richtig, und man könnte ihm dankbar für dieses klare Statement sein.

Und doch hat es einen mehr als zwiespältigen Eindruck hinterlassen; nicht wegen des Textes als solchem. Noch vor zwei oder sogar einem Jahr wäre er passend und völlig in Ordnung gewesen. Aber in dieser Zeit, unter den derzeitigen Verhältnissen, und von Großbritanniens offiziellem Repräsentanten für dieses Land geschrieben, ist er alles andere als passend. Der Botschafter schafft es – in einem Beitrag gegen Gewalt an Frauen! – den Krieg, die direkte und nackte Gewalt, die (auch) Frauen im Jemen nun täglich erfahren, vollkommen unerwähnt zu lassen. Eine Gewalt, die zum großen Teil ausgerechnet von Großbritanniens Verbündeten Saudi-Arabien ausgeht, und das ja auch noch mit aktiver Unterstützung der Briten.

Hatte doch der britische Außenminister Philip Hammond gleich nach Beginn der saudischen Luftangriffe erklärt, Großbritannien werde die Saudis „auf jede geeignete Art und Weise außer der aktiven Teilnahme im Kampf“ unterstützen. Das geschah dann mit Waffenlieferungen, Logistik mit britischem Personal und politischer Unterstützung. Und von dieser Linie ist die britische Politik bis heute nicht abgerückt. Das zeigen Äußerungen von Hammond zum Jemen, die nur als bewusstes Wegschauen vor den saudischen Kriegsverbrechen an Zivilisten im Jemen gedeutet werden können – um weiter Waffen an die Saudis liefern zu können.

Das ist der Hintergrund, vor dem ein britischer Botschafter im Jemen heutzutage (zwangsläufig) einen solchen Text verfasst. Und wenn er beim Thema „Gewalt gegen Frauen“ genau diese von seiner Regierung selbst befeuerte Gewalt – die ja noch viel brutaler ist als alle andere Gewalt, die die Frauen im Jemen ständig erfahren müssen – einfach übergeht, dann lässt das daran zweifeln, dass es ihm wirklich ernst ist mit dem Schicksal der Frauen im Jemen.

So lenkt er vor allem ab von der Mitschuld seiner eigenen Regierung an dieser brutalsten Gewalt gegen die Frauen im Jemen und gibt damit – sicher so nicht beabsichtigt – ein deutliches Zeichen von krasser Heuchelei.

Auf dem Blog des Botschafters wird man zur Antwort aufgefordert – das habe ich mit einem längeren Text in der Form eines Briefes getan. Natürlich gibt es einen Filter, „Your comment is awaiting moderation“. Nun, das wird er wohl noch lange (nunmehr zwei Tage), und es wäre in der Tat direkt auffällig, wenn er tatsächlich freigeschaltet würde. Denn er geht eben auf diese Zusammenhänge ein, die der Botschafter ausgeblendet hat und die damit seinen eigenen Text völlig entwerten würden.

Meine Antwort an Botschafter Fitton-Brown soll daher nun als Offener Brief auf diese Weise erscheinen. Hintergrund ist Großbritanniens Verstrickung in den Jemenkrieg. Die Links am Ende dienen zur weiteren Information; sie hingen (bis auf die neu hinzugekommenen) meiner Replik auf dem Ministeriums-Blog ebenfalls an.

Nun hat sich in den letzten zwei Tagen noch etwas Positives getan: Human Rights Watch hat den bisher ausführlichsten unabhängigen Untersuchungsbericht zu den saudischen Luftangriffen im Jemen veröffentlicht. 10 Luftangriffe, die zu mindestens 309 Toten führten, wurden vor Ort untersucht. Und das britische Parlament wird sich nun näher mit diesem Thema befassen und hat zur Einsendung von relevantem Material aufgefordert.

Writing about violence against women in Yemen while omitting the brutal violence caused by the war which is fired by the own government, is hypocrisy

Edmund Fitton-Brown, the British ambassador in Yemen (in fact, in the moment he is residing at Raid in Saudi Arabia), on occasion of the "International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women" on 25 November 2015 had published a text at the blog of the British Foreign Office, especially dedicated to the women of Yemen. It well known that especially in a country like Yemen women suffer a lot of oppression, of discrimination and of violence - as far as this, the text of Fitton-Brown is correct in every word, and you could be grateful to him for this clear statement.

And yet it has left a more than ambivalent impression; not because of the text as such. Even two years or even only one year ago, this text would have been perfectly fine and would have fitted well. But written at this time, under the current circumstances, and written by Britain's official representative for this country, this text is anything but suitable. The ambassador – in an article on violence against women! – manages to totally omit the war and the direct and naked violence daily experienced (also) by Yemeni women in these days. A violence that just emanates largely from Britain's ally Saudi Arabia, and is even actively supported by the British.

Just after the beginning of the Saudi airstrikes British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond expressed that Britain would support the Saudis “in every practical way short of engaging in combat”. That happened by with arms sales, by logistics with British staff and by political support. And this line of British policy did not change until this day. This is shown by a statement of Hammond on Yemen, which only can be interpreted as consciously looking away from the Saudi war crimes against civilians in Yemen – so that Britain could continue supplying weapons to the Saudis.

That is the background, against which nowadays a British ambassador in Yemen is writing such a text. And when for the subject of "violence against women" he just ignores this heavy violence which even is fired by his own government, a violence which even is much more brutal than any other form of violence, which Yemeni women constantly must suffer – then this leaves it very doubtful whether he is really serious about the fate of women in Yemen.

So above all he is drawing attention off from the complicity of his own government on this most brutal violence against women in Yemen and thus – while certainly not intended – he is giving a clear sign of crass hypocrisy.

On the blog of the Ambassador you are prompted to answer – which I have done by a longer text in the form of a letter. Of course, there is a filter, "Your comment is awaiting moderation". Well, this moderation already is lasting for long (now that are two days), and it would be directly noticeable, in fact, if my comment actually would be unlocked. Because this text refers to all that what the Ambassador was eager to hide and what would thus completely devalue his own text.

My answer to Ambassador Fitton-Brown therefore now will be published by this way as an Open Letter. Its background is the UK's involvement in the Yemen war. The links at the bottom serve for further information; up to the newly added they had been added to my reply at the Ambassador’s Blog also.

Now something positive has happened in the last two days: Human Rights Watch has published the most detailed independent investigation report on the Saudi airstrikes in Yemen existing up to now. 10 air raids which resulted in at least 309 deaths have been investigated on the spot. And the British Parliament will now look more closely at this issue and has asked for the submission of relevant material.

Hier zunächst der Link auf Text von Edmund Fitton-Brown, auf den ich mich beziehe.

Here at first the link to the text by Edmund Fitton-Brown, to which I refer:

Edmund Fitton-Brown, British Ambassador to Yemen

Nov. 25, 2015

Don’t Leave Half of Yemen’s Population Behind

As a male ambassador, I am not an obvious candidate to promote women’s rights. But the subject is close to my heart. […]

I want to flag up today’s date. 25 November marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Ending violence against women and girls is a priority for the UK at home and overseas. It’s also a personal priority of mine in my role as Ambassador to Yemen, a country where the suffering of women is particularly profound. Around the world 35% of women and girls will experience some form of physical or sexual violence during their lifetime. […]

There is much work to be done to give Yemeni women equal opportunities and rights. I call on all those who are working for Yemen’s future to make this a priority. What is clear is that no country can develop if it leaves half its population behind.

http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/edmundfittonbrown/2015/11/25/dont-leave-half-of-yemens-population-behind/

Und dies ist nun der Offene Brief an Botschafter Edmund Fitton-Brown (mit Ergänzungen gegenüber der Version vom 26. November):

And here is the Open Letter to Ambassador Edmund Fitton-Brown (supplemented compared to the version of Nov., 26):

Open Letter to Ambassador Edmund Fitton-Brown:

Excellency,

Publishing a nice text makes you looking nice, doesn’t it? This is a nice text – there is not a single word which would be wrong. This might have been a nice, a good text for Yemeni women in a “better” year. We only can hope that such a year will come in the next future.

For this year, anyway, this definitely is an inadequate text, especially when taking into account WHO had published it. Women in Yemen do have a lot of problems and are suffering in normal life by many ways. But their main problem this year is the war devastating their country and devastating their lives.

A war, which had started as a civil war and which had been inflamed to its full cruelty by Britain’s best allies in the region, Saudi Arabia and the other monarchies at the Persian Gulf (Oman excepted).

A war, in which these British allies are responsible for an extremely cruel aerial war, killing thousands, injuring tens of thousands – all existing figures certainly are much too low as victims from villages, who are quickly buried and never are brought to a hospital, mostly will not be counted at all.

An aerial war destroying thousands of residential homes, destroying the whole economy and the whole infrastructure of the country or at least of the (great) part which is affected.

A war, which is accompanied by a nearly total blockade for any imports, a blockade which the same British allies have imposed. A blockade, which affects a country that for 90 % of its foodstuff depends on imports from overseas, and for 100 % for medicines and medical equipment.

Thus, by the effects of this blockade imposed by Britain’s allies, still much more people will die or starve than by the direct effects of warfare and Saudi air raids.

A war, in which Britain is giving active support to these ravaging, killing and destroying allies “in every practical way short of engaging in combat”, as Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond expressed in the beginning of the Saudi air raids

As admitted by Minister of State Penny Mordaunt, over 150 Britons are working “to support Saudi Arabia". An undisclosed number of British “liaison personnel” are working at the “Saudi and coalition air and maritime headquarters,” according to Mordaunt’s statement.

One of the most effective support for Saudi Arabia and its “coalition” is the supply of arms and airplanes by the United Kingdom. Weapons can only be used for war – thus they are used for war. Thus, British support and British weapons are helping to kill and to destroy.

That’s what in this year is most affecting Yemeni women – and You do not lose any word about it: When they are killed or injured, when their children are killed or injured, their husbands, brothers and fathers they are depending on for their living (as it is in that country), when their houses are turned into ruins, when they and their family are starving (and it is their task to look for food and to prepare the meals, as it is in that country), when they do not get any more medical help, because the hospitals have been bombed by the Saudi air raids and there are no more medicines and no more medical equipment because of the Saudi blockade. When the breadwinners of their families lose their jobs because the whole economy has been smashed to pieces by the Saudi air raids.

(Off course, also the other side in this conflict is committing war crimes, kills and destroys. But it’s the Saudis and their allies who are responsible for the bulk of all that – and they are supported by Britain and the whole “West”, thus stopping this must be (y)our main concern!).

THAT’S Yemeni women’s most burning problem in the moment, and for a great part this is the fault of Britain as well. THAT really is the most terrible violence affecting Yemeni women in these days – and you not even mention it when writing on occasion just of the “International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women”. This omission is really strange!

So, who really wants to do something to improve the fate of Yemeni women now has to look at all that. And he should care about that what he could do for them in his situation and in his position.

And there would be quite a lot for a representative of Britain, and even more especially for the one at whose doorstep all these war crimes are happening. What had you done to stop Britain’s active support for this warfare? What about stopping arms supply for Saudi Arabia and its allies?

What about the official British position in the case of Yemen? It is YOUR superior, your Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who has the political direction to deny any war crimes of the British allies, to deny any civilian victims and destructions of civilian infrastructure – or at least to minimize them by pretending that there still would not exist any evidence and valid investigation.

And he does that while the cases of clear evidence count to the hundreds and while there are existing solid investigations of several cases by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

In his statement YOUR superior, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Philip Hammond, took the cheap and specious backdoor asking for an independent investigation still to be made, knowing exactly that this would not happen in the next time, and thus claiming the right to further supply the Saudis with British arms, until this (never coming) investigation will show that there are Saudi war crimes.

And why this investigation will not come? The international body which could initialise it – the UN Human Rights Council – has totally failed in this case. There is strong evidence that Britain and Saudi Arabia supported each other to ensure both countries were elected to the council. And some time later, in this council Saudi Arabia was given the opportunity to block the Dutch initiative for such an investigation. And Britain seems to have been one of the countries giving way to the Saudi influence to shoot down the Dutch initiative.

That is YOUR background, Excellency, when writing your text on Yemeni women. And looking at this background, this nice text as written or published by YOU and at THIS TIME only can be ranked as a sign of extreme hypocrisy.

Kind regards,

Dietrich Klose

Only a few links for further information:

British support and arms trade:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/yemen/11500518/UK-will-support-Saudi-led-assault-on-Yemeni-rebels-but-not-engaging-in-combat.html

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/uk-reveals-details-support-saudi-bombing-campaign-yemen-29935457

http://www.rt.com/uk/310548-drone-uk-syria-strikes/

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/17/uk-courts-saudi-arabia-arms-sales

https://theferret.scot/new-claims-war-crimes-yemen-child-deaths/

https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/nicholas-mcgeehan/where-is-outrage-on-david-cameron-s-scandal-in-gulf

Britain and Saudi Arabia elected to Human Rights Council:

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/sep/29/uk-and-saudi-arabia-in-secret-deal-over-human-rights-council-place

Dutch resolution blocked in Human Rights Council:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/10/united-states-united-nations-yemen-war/408751/

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/02/us-yemen-rights-idUSKCN0RW1ES20151002

Statement by Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond:

http://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/arms-saudi-arabia-philip-hammonds-remarks-yemen-investigation-are-grossly-inadequate

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/11/calls-for-investigation-into-saudi-arabias-actions-in-yemen

Glen Greenwald about an interview with Daniel Kawczynski, MP and Foreign Affairs Select Committee member:

https://theintercept.com/2015/09/15/great-bbc-interview-british-loyalist-saudi-regime-shows-journalists-first-duty/

Britain and war crimes:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/uk-could-be-prosecuted-for-war-crimes-over-missiles-sold-to-saudi-arabia-that-were-used-to-kill-a6752166.html

Destructions in Yemen by figures:

https://yemenonthethreshold.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/war-losses-and-damages-saudi-led-coalition-aggression-on-yemen/

Human Rights Watch, November 26: And this is the newest independent investigation as Secretary Hammond has asked for:

http://hrw.org/node/283702

Photos of victims of the war and destructions, arranged by and thus documenting incidents (graphic!):

http://poorworld.net/YemenWar.htm

http://yemenwarcrimes.blogspot.de/

13:00 28.11.2015
Dieser Beitrag gibt die Meinung des Autors wieder, nicht notwendigerweise die der Redaktion des Freitag.
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Dietrich Klose

Vielfältig interessiert am aktuellen Geschehen, zur Zeit besonders: Ukraine, Russland, Jemen, Rolle der USA, Neoliberalismus, Ausbeutung der 3. Welt
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Dietrich Klose

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