SANA’A – Spanish activists are trying to force a Saudi transport vessel out of the port of Santander, and to bar future entry to the ship or any other Saudi vessels that seek to make port in Spain to stock up on weaponry for the Kingdom’s offensive wars.
The Bahri Hofuf had made port in the Basque city of Bilbao since July 2017, until it was forced out of the city by an alliance of activists and organisations, including the local chapter of Greenpeace, in March.
However, upon taking to the seas, the vessel turned off its geolocation device, allowing it to travel undetected for 24 hours. The Basque NGO Ongi Etorri, which had been tracking the Bahri Hofuf, then notified other organisations of the ship’s disappearance from the localisation system.
By the time the geolocator was turned back on, the Saudi vessel turned out to be already docked once again, in the port city of Santander, in the neighbouring Spanish province of Cantabria.
Aurora Otero, an activist from organisation Pasaje Seguro who was quoted by the Latin American TeleSUR news agency, noted that the ship’s name had been erased from the hull and the flag signifying that it was transporting dangerous cargo had been taken off as well.
Activists all over Cantabria started organising a campaign of grassroots networking and political pressure to force the vessel transporting military goods out of the port. Over 18,000 signatures have been collected so far in a petition.
“Even though we think this is the first time this ship comes to Cantabria, we don’t want it to become a regular thing. This ship is not welcomed. The weapons it’s loading will be used to massacre Yemeni people in an extremely cruel conflict that’s underreported by media. A war that has taken the lives of more than 10,000 people and has left two million displaced, half of them with no shelter,” the petition reads.
The left-wing political coalition Unidos Podemos has also joined the demands of the protesters, later followed by the Cantabrian chapter of the centre-left Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party and the movement Santander Si Puede.
Activists believe that the vessel is planning to use the port of Santander to stock up on weapons manufactured in the cities of Alava, Guipuzkoa and Burgos, possibly to be used against Yemen.
“For the security of those who live in Santander and because the weapons that the Saudi Kingdom ship is loading will surely kill a lot of civilians in Yemen, the Santander municipality and the Government of Cantabria should deny authorization for the Bahri Hofuf to load death in its warehouses,” the activists said.