MEDIA CONTACT: Isaac Evans-Frantz, Action Corps NYC Organizer, 347-756-1896, actioncorps.nyc [at] gmail.com (actio)
#YemenCantWait Rally Draws 28 Organizations and Reps from Schumer, Gillibrand Offices
"I long for the day when Yemen is free of war and destruction and where the Yemeni people can live in peace. It is incumbent on the UN and all nations to call for a cease fire and negotiations for peace in Yemen." - Dr. Debbie Almontaser, Yemeni American activist
“Each day the US continues to aid the Saudi-led military operations in Yemen, children die from cholera, malnutrition, and US-made bombs.” - Kate Alexander, event organizer
WHAT: On Friday, January 26th at 11:00 AM, activists from anti-war, Yemeni, human rights and interfaith communities gathered for a rally in front of the NYC offices of U.S. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, 780 Third Avenue, in solidarity with the Yemeni people to oppose all U.S. support for the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen. Representatives from the offices of both senators were present at the rally.
The rally was organized by Peace Action New York State with support from Action Corps NYC, Veterans for Peace, the Catholic Worker, and other organizations. This demonstration was endorsed by the following 28 local, state, national and international organizations: Peace Action New York State, Action Corps NYC, Catholic Worker, Yemen Peace Project, Islamic Civic Association, CODEPINK, World Beyond War, Voices for Creative Non-Violence, Muslim Political Club of NY, War Resisters League, Win Without War, Veterans for Peace - NYC Chapter 034, Uptown Progressive Action, NYC Metro Raging Grannies, KnowDrones.org, New Jersey Peace Action, Pax Christi Metro New York, Queens New York Peace Council, No War Westchester, Office of the Americas, Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives, Peace and Justice Task Force of All Souls Unitarian Church, Brooklyn for Peace, Granny Peace Brigade, Women in Black Against War, Campaign Nonviolence - Houston, MPower Change, and Just Foreign Policy.
WHO: Speakers included: Dr. Debbie Almontaser (Yemeni American activist, founder of Khalil Gibran International Academy, Board President of the Muslim Community Network), Sahar Alsahlani (Iraqi American activist, Board Member of CAIR-NY, National Council member of Religions for Peace - USA and Fellowship of Reconciliation), Carmen Trotta (Catholic Worker movement organizer) and Kate Alexander (Policy and Outreach Director of Peace Action New York State). A statement was read from Summer Nasser (Yemeni American activist, Chairperson of YemenAid.us).
WHY: Despite Monday's news of Saudi Arabia’s measures to provide humanitarian relief, humanitarian and commercial access remains highly restricted. Kate Alexander, of Peace Action New York, who led the organizing of the event, stated, “The perilous nature of Yemeni access to food, medicine, and water -- and the continued bombing of civilian infrastructure in Yemen -- should not be ignored by U.S. foreign policy.” Alexander and other rally organizers stated that the United States should end all support for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen.
A Saudi-led coalition began bombing Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen in March 2015, with the support and participation of the U.S. U.S. support has included arming Saudi Arabia and the UAE and diplomatic cover at the UN Security Council. Direct US participation has included targeting information and refueling Saudi-UAE warplanes during their bombing runs. This direct participation has occurred without ever having been authorized by Congress, in violation of the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution.
The Saudi coalition air raids have killed two-thirds of the Yemeni civilians who have died in the conflict. U.S. bombs have been used in Yemen against markets, hospitals, funeral halls and residential neighborhoods.
The air raids have damaged critical civilian infrastructure, causing the cholera outbreak impacting 1 million persons and food insecurity impacting 22 million people, in a country with a population of 27 million. The Saudi-led coalition's blockade of commercial goods and humanitarian aid into Yemen, in the context of this humanitarian need, has contributed to what the UN describes as the world's worst human-caused humanitarian disaster.
Additional Quotes from Rally:
Since the war, the world has forgotten Yemen. Due to turning a blind eye, Yemen is now the world’s worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. We must come together to end the internal and external war that continues to deteriorate and dismantle the future of the average Yemeni citizen and their families.” - Summer Nasser, Yemeni American activist, Chairperson of YemenAid.us (read from a prepared statement by a representative)
“Time is running out for the people of Yemen, who are experiencing the world's worst humanitarian crisis. With eight million people at risk of starvation, we call on our US Senators to completely stop the blockade and ultimately stop fueling the collective punishment of the Yemeni people.” – Isaac Evans-Frantz, Action Corps NYC Organizer
“Every day, U.S. support to the Saudi-led coalition is costing lives. UNICEF reports that five children in Yemen, every day, have been killed or injured since the intervention began in March 2015. So every day that our Elected Representatives fail to act to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, innocent Yemenis will suffer. This is a matter of life and death, and should not be caught in partisan politics." - Kate Alexander, Policy and Outreach Director of Peace Action New York State
Monday the Washington Post reported that US-backed Saudi airstrikes killed 5 children in Yemen earlier that day, and the New Yorker ran an article How the U.S. is Making the War in Yemen Worse. Meanwhile, however, a diverse coalition of activists from 28 organizations rallied this morning for the US Senate to withdraw support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
Monday the New York Times reported that the UN mediator for the Yemen Conflict is stepping down in frustration over failed peacemaking attempts. Moreover, the Post and Times reported that despite Saudi Arabia's announcement of humanitarian aid for Yemen, Yemeni people continue to lack access to food, water and medicines. This ongoing blockade is contributing to what the UN states may become the worst humanitarian disaster the world has seen in 50 years.
Four members of Congress from New York – Reps. Adriano Espaillat, Louise Slaughter, Paul Tonko, and, just this month, Carolyn Maloney – have all co-sponsored H.Con.Res.81, a House bill directing the President to remove US armed forces from the war. Rally organizers called on Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to support companion legislation in the Senate to withdraw unauthorized U.S. military involvement from Yemen.
Rally organizers are calling on their US Senators, back in session, to order the President to withdraw US support for the Saudi war in Yemen, under the banner #YemenCantWait.