Blocking the entrance to the US Mission to the UN, 15 peace activists from the Catholic Worker Movement, Granny Peace Brigade, Raging Grannies, among others, called for ending the blockade of Yemen, together with ending the intensive bombing of homes, water and sanitation infrastructure being assisted by the USA, and resulting in a million cases of cholera (reported as the largest outbreak in a country in recent times) and millions of cases of severe and acute child malnutrition, an estimate of 7 million facing starvation, new outbreaks of dengue and diphtheria, and thousands dead and tens of thousands injured.. With more than 50% of hospitals destroyed, many health workers unable to work due to the bombings or fleeing the violence, shortages of all foods and depleted medical supplies due to the blockade, limit help reaching the most at risk. Yemen is now facing the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world.
A Rally of at Ralph Bunche Park started the day’s events, with several speakers including David McReynolds, two times a presidential candidate, Carmen Trotta, Catholic Worker Movement, Kate Alexander, Peace Action, and Isaac Evans-Franz who also read a moving statement on the situation of children and women by a leading American-Yemeni activist, each presenting insights into the conflict. The US is not alone in arming and aiding the Saudi-led bombings: Canada, France, England, Germany among others are culpable in the destruction of Yemen, which has been and continues to be the poorest country in the Region. Politically, the civil war is very complex, and many feel there will not be a military solution. Efforts are underway by peace groups to urge our Congress to take action to end the US complicity in the war, which started in 2015 by President Obama, but now is intensified by Donald Trump. While Trump has asked the Saudis to end the blockade to enable humanitarian action, the US has not taken a stance to end the bombing. Of course not, as we have sold billions of $$$ worth of bombs and advanced weaponry to the Saudis and, recently, reported sold cluster bombs, deemed illegal under a UN treaty.
Two groups of protestors formed, one marching to the US UN Mission, with a group wearing vests with the photo of an infant/child from Yemen, immediately blocking the entrance. A crowd of about 50 supported their action! A second group proceeded to the Saudi Arabia UN Mission.
At the US Mission, the group was left unhindered for almost an hour, but then the police moved in, normal warning to leave or be arrested given, and then proceeded with the arrests. Alice, (Raging Granny/GPB) said one officer was a bit nasty commenting that they were wasting police time on a day when NYC faced its first suicide bomber attempt.
Alice responded, that as grandmothers, we are concerned about children dying here, Yemen, anywhere. Later, she mentioned other police at the jail were more supportive specifically saying they have the right to stand for what they believe. Bev and Joan also felt the police were generally polite.
Joan though had a problem. In the jail, she was asked to remove her shoelaces. Then the cop noticed the string around her trousers. He asked her to remove it, but Joan said she had nothing underneath! He relented to allow her to keep her pants up!
At the Saudi Arabia Mission, a smaller group gathered. There was no indication that the Mission was there….in the Institute of International Education (II E) office building. So a protestor held a sign indicating the site was also the Saudi Mission. There were more police than demonstrators! We peacefully blocked the main doors, but a side door remained open. Just before the arrests at the US Mission began, all but two remained. At that time, with only two of us (Florino-peace action and I) there, security said we were blocking the door.! We thought they were going to arrest us! To our surprise, not today. As people entered and left, I called out: “end the blockade; stop bombing Yemen.” A man came out, looking particularly distinguished, walking towards a black diplomatic car, with someone who looked like a bodyguard. So I shouted my mantra! The gentleman turned his head to see where it was coming from. He didn’t look happy. Was he the Ambassador? Senior person in the Mission? Don’t know. But think they got our message.
What was achieved? The crowd today was limited as much of the city was closed due to a bombing attempt. Media coverage limited to bloggers and some international news agencies, as NY media was across town. But still our presence was registered. And we will be back! Until the dying/killing in Yemen ends.
We thank the organizers of the day’s events: Felton Davis, Carmen Trotta, and their colleagues from Catholic Worker; Isaac Evans-Franz, Action Corps NYC, among others. It is noted that other demonstrations were also underway this day in LA and Washington, DC by CodePink.
Join the weekly vigils every Saturday 11-1pm currently at the CUBE at Astor Place.
We urge calls and letters/emails to our Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and to our House members: Let Yemen Live!
– Marty Rajandran with Eva-Lee, Joan, Bev, Barbara H, Barbara W, Nydia, Alice