No Arms Dealers in Our Schools:

Stop Arming the Aggressors in Yemen

I am an elementary school art teacher in Grand Prairie ISD, just about a mile away from Lockheed Martin’s Grand Prairie Missiles and Fire Control division. Each year our school has a dedicated STEM Day where we have a variety of activities for all grade levels. Our students are around 6-11 years old. Young volunteers, mostly rookie engineers, dedicate their day helping students go through a number of STEM activities they have prepared such as egg drop parachutes and water rockets. Volunteers also present Lockheed Martin promotional videos that feature their latest weapons in action. They talk to my students about how cool it is to have a great job, making cool weapons, and keeping our country safe. When the activity is over, they hand out F-35 fighter jet stickers.

Eight-thousand miles away from Grand Prairie, Saudi Arabia and its allies have been bombing and blockading Yemen for almost six years. The Saudi government purchased many of its weapons from the United States. The U.S. has also supported the Saudi-led air war with logistical support and refueling of Saudi fighter jets that have bombed hospitals, mosques, weddings, markets, and schools. On August 9, 2018, a school bus on its way to a field trip was bombed. Fifty-one people, including 40 children, the same ages as my students 6 to 11, were killed. CNN reported** that the weapon used was a 500-pound laser-guided MK-82 bomb made by Lockheed Martin. These are the same weapons those volunteer engineers excitedly showed to my students.

Lockheed Martin’s Grand Prairie division has been one of the most profitable divisions in the company. The Saudi ambassador to the U.S. visited the Grand Prairie site in 2017 as part of a tour promoting “the Saudi-Lockheed Martin relationship”*. Lockheed Martin’s Grand Prairie division landed a $3.4B deal in 2019 providing missile defense systems to Saudi Arabia and a $6.1B deal in 2020 providing Patriot missiles to a list of U.S. allies including the UAE, a Saudi coalition member. We need to hold Lockheed Martin responsible for human rights violations and war crimes committed with its weapons, and demand an end to Lockheed Martin weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi-led airstrikes have been responsible for the majority of civilian deaths and injuries in Yemen since 2014. A quarter of a million people have been killed and the war has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. It is urgently important that the new Biden administration ban weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and withdraw its support for the Saudi coalition. In 2019, Congress passed a War Powers Resolution with broad bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. Trump vetoed this measure, which would have ended U.S. involvement, and U.S. support for the war only grew throughout Trump’s tenure. I urge Biden to keep his promise that he will end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen.

The Saudi-led coalition justified their bombing stating that the four teachers in the bus were responsible for recruiting and training fighters and producing IEDs, without providing further information to support their allegations. If that’s the type of logic to be used to select targets and justify killings, that justifies our school to be targeted as well. All children are equally precious. We cannot teach our kids that bombs and weapons are cool, and one can make a fortune out of killing other children of their age.

 

Sources:

*https://www.saudiembassy.net/press-release/saudi-ambassador-us-praises-saudi-lockheed-martin-relationship-visit-texas

** https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/17/middleeast/us-saudi-yemen-bus-strike-intl/index.html