KUALA LUMPUR: Local human rights body, Lawyers for Liberty, says it is concerned with Malaysia’s military involvement in the Saudi Arabia-led coalition war against Yemen that started in 2015 and continues to this day.
Referring to the recent assault by the Saudi-led coalition on the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, the body has called on Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu to explain the actual reasons for the presence of Malaysian troops in Riyadh and their involvement in the war in Yemen.
It also citied a report from the UN Panel of Experts on Yemen to the UN Security Council, which said that the Saudi-led military coalition attacks in Yemen “may amount to war crimes”, and that Malaysian military personnel were working alongside France, Britain, and the United States at the coalition’s joint headquarters in Riyadh to coordinate the war against the Houthi rebels and their allies in Yemen.
Its executive director Eric Paulsen said under the previous Datuk Seri Najib Razak (former Prime Minister) administration, former Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein did not respond to the UN’s concerns and downplayed any Malaysian involvement, declaring that Malaysian troops were deployed only to evacuate Malaysians from Yemen and for humanitarian purposes.
“If it is indeed true that our troops were deployed to assist evacuation efforts, then the work should have been done by now and there was no need to remain deployed for over three years.
“The expectation that Malaysian troops will be required to carry out humanitarian work is absurd as Malaysia is part of the Saudi-led coalition that is causing the war and humanitarian disaster, described as the world’s worst by the UN Secretary General,” he said in a statement here today.
“Malaysia has a long-standing principle of non-interference in the affairs of other countries that has served us well. Unless mandated by the UN Security Council, Malaysia has no business being involved in the war in Yemen,” he said.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in an open letter in November 2017 had called for an end to the war in Yemen and it is timely that Malaysia plays its more traditional peaceful and facilitative role, he said.
Lawyers for Liberty also urged the Defence Minister to cease all military participation in the Yemen conflict and to recall the Malaysian troops stationed in Riyadh.
Lawyers for Liberty is a Malaysian human rights and law reform pseudo-non governmental organisation with close links to the People’s Justice Party.