Press Statement
Malaysia’s military involvement in the Saudi-led coalition war in Yemen must end
19 June 2018

Lawyers for Liberty notes with concern Malaysia’s involvement in the Saudi Arabia-led coalition war against Yemen that started in 2015 and continues to this day.

We refer to various reports, including from the UN Panel of Experts on Yemen to the UN Security Council (January 2017) stating that the Saudi-led military coalition attacks in Yemen “may amount to war crimes.” The report also stated Malaysian military personnel were working alongside France, Britain, and the United States at the coalition’s joint headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to coordinate the war against the Houthi rebels and their allies in Yemen.

Under the previous Najib Razak administration, former Defence Minister 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.

In light of the recent assault by the Saudi-led coalition upon the critically important Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, we call upon 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.

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, much less ganging up against a much weaker party in order to please Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in an open letter in November 2017 has previously called for an end to the war in Yemen and it is timely that Malaysia plays our more traditional peaceful and facilitative role.

We urge the Defence Minister to cease all military participation in the Yemen conflict and to recall our troops stationed in Riyadh. This ill-advised military adventurism must come to an end.

Released by:
Eric Paulsen
Executive Director
Lawyers for Liberty