This is the latest in a string of protests by anti-war activists against the ship as it has made its way to various European ports.
At the end of last month, the Bahri Yanbu was blocked from docking in Bremerhaven, Germany, after Amnesty International sought legal action through the courts. It was then prevented from docking in Antwerp, Belgium, by “citizen weapons inspectors” before moving onto Britain where it was faced with further protests; it had to dock in Sheerness, instead of the scheduled stop at Tilbury.
Sailing onto the French port of Cherbourg, the Bahri Yanbu was greeted by yet more activists holding signs saying “War crimes in Yemen” and “Made in France”, a reference to French weapons that were suspected of being loaded onto the ship. In the Spanish port of Bilbao, Greenpeace reported that explosive material had been put on board.
The Italian dock workers went on strike last year in a dispute about loading the same Saudi vessel and are planning further action later this year. They were reported to be going on strike and were joined by other organisations on February 18 when the Bahri Yanbu docked. The trade unions have repeatedly voiced their opposition to loading “hot cargo” that is destined for use in the war in Yemen.
The protesters believe that the weapons shipments violate a United Nations embargo as they could be used against civilians in Yemen, where the Saudi-led coalition has intervened militarily in a bid to overthrow the Houthi-led National Salvation Government based in the capital, Sanaa.
Riyadh also wants to reinstate exiled President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi who has been living in the Saudi capital since he fled Yemen after the start of the war. More than 100,000 people have been killed since 2015, and Yemen now faces what has been described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The Bahri Yanbu is expected to cross the Mediterranean Sea to dock at Alexandria, in Egypt, before it heads for the Saudi port of Jeddah via the Suez Canal.
[Abridged from Middle East Monitor.]