A ship that was set to carry arms to Saudi Arabia has reportedly left France without them, a day after a protest by a human rights group at port.
Human rights activists rallied to stop the delivery, saying the weapons could be used to slaughter civilians in Yemen.
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The move comes weeks after an online investigative site published leaked French military intelligence that showed weapons sold to the kingdom, including tanks and laser-guided missile systems, were being used against Yemeni civilians.
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RT reports: The Bahri-Yanbu, a cargo ship that was meant to deliver the latest shipment of French weapons to the Gulf kingdom arrived in the port Le Havre on Thursday. Protesters gathered there to denounce their government’s refusal to stop arms trade with Saudi Arabia after reports revealed that French weapons have been used by Riyadh in its four-year-long military campaign in neighboring Yemen.
“Why do we continue to feed countries that have a disrespectful international behavior and why do we continue to fuel the war? The question should be put to the President of the Republic,” said National Assembly member Jean-Yves Lecoq, who took part in the protest.
On Friday, the ship left the French coast and set sail to Spain without loading arms at Le Havre, Reuters reported citing local officials and ship tracking data. This apparently gives at least a temporary win for the protesters
Earlier French Defense Minister Florence Parly said the shipment did not pose a threat to people in Yemen and was purely defensive. “As far as the French government is aware, we have no proof that the victims in Yemen are the result of the use of French weapons,” Parly said in an interview with BFM. She wouldn’t detail which weapons the ship is to carry to the Saudis.
The French government has been criticized by rights activists for continued arms trade with the Saudis despite a report by the investigative news site Disclose last month. The site leaked a classified military memo, which said French tanks and artillery were used in the war against Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Disclose said the upcoming shipment included eight truck-mounted Caesar howitzers, but AFP news agency cited a government source as denying this claim.