Italian port blockaded over arms trafficking suspicions


GENOA – Italian union workers blockaded the port of Genoa in protest against the attempted docking of the ‘Bahri-Yanbu’ freighter which is suspected of carrying explosive material to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, according to a union statement.

  The blockade by Italian union workers started on Monday, and has stopped the Bahri-Yanbu from being loaded with electricity generators, according to port officials. The Bahri-Yanbu is alleged to be carrying weapons to the Middle East, after video footage and photographs emerged from Greenpeace on Feb. 11 which claim to show explosive material being loaded onboard in the Spanish port of Bilbao.

  The Bahri Yanbu was previously blocked from docking in the German port of Bremerhaven, after Amnesty International sought legal action through the courts; in the French port of Le Havre, following human rights protests; and in the Belgium port in Antwerp by citizen weapons inspectors, according to reports from alaraby and middleeastmonitor. 

  Saudi vessels ferry millions of dollars of arms that have been used on civilians in Yemen, according to Amnesty International reports. Standing in protest in Genoa alongside the members of Genoa’s Autonomous Collective of Dockworkers, were political groups which included the Communist Workers Party, the Communist Party, the Anticapitalist Left, International Resistances and Amnesty international, reports Genoa Quotidiana.

  Since 2015, the fighting in Yemen has killed over two hundred thousand civilians, and millions more have been displaced and are at risk of famine. Under the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), ratified by Italy in 2014, Italy are required under international law to prohibit the transfer of arms and ammunition if they might be used in cases that violate the Genocide Conventions of 1949, which includes crimes against humanity such as those listed above.

  Article 9 of the ATT requires that states take appropriate measures to regulate ships in transit.

  Italian workers represented by the Genoa’s Autonomous Collective of Dockworkers, told the local broadcaster Fivedabliu in a television interview that six Saudi ships regularly stop in Genoa.

  They also said that inspections often count for nothing, because weapons can be shipped in pieces and assembled in other places.