Fifty French MPs challenge the executive on a prison in a Total factory in Yemen

The Balhaf gas site (Yemen), managed by Total, in June 2010.

Fifty-one French parliamentarians arrested, Friday, December 11 in an open letter, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, on the existence of a military base and a detention center of the army of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) within the confines of a gas site managed by Total in Yemen. Their questions follow up on information published by The world, in November, on abuses attributed to Emirati forces on this site and on the ongoing struggle for its control. The factory, shut down due to the war in 2015, previously accounted for up to 45% of Yemen’s tax revenue.

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As early as 2019, an official of the Saudi-Emirati coalition, which has intervened militarily in the country since 2015, confirmed to us the existence of a “Temporary detention cell” on the Balhaf site. This was still active in early 2020, according to the testimony of the director of the main hospital in the province, who claimed to have received former prisoners with marks of torture. This Total site was the subject, in 2019, of a report by the Armaments Observatory, SumOfUs and Les Amis de la Terre, then questions to the government in the Assembly.

“It seems worrying to us to note that the Balhaf plant, whose main shareholder is a flagship of our industry, is being exploited in a way that is contrary to international law and to the conventions governing the law of war”, write the parliamentarians, led by the deputy (not registered, Rhône) Hubert Julien-Laferrière. Contacted, the Quai d’Orsay and the Emirati authorities have not yet followed up.

Most of the opposition, the signatories of this letter are former elected representatives of La République en Marche (LRM), such as Mr. Julien-Laferrière and Cédric Villani, members of the Communist Party, the Socialist Party and La France insoumise . Members of the Democratic Movement are also joining forces and the coordinator of the defense commission for LRM, Fabien Gouttefarde, also president of the France-Yemen friendship group in the Assembly.

The latter assumes to join the opposition, in an open letter which “Raises useful questions about this gas site, a fundamental source of foreign exchange for Yemen at the time it was in operation. However, France, through Total, has some of the cards in hand: it would be important for our diplomacy to weigh as much as possible on the United Arab Emirates to unblock the issue ”.

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