(22 Nov 2019) LEAD IN: As the war in Yemen continues, a new mural in the center of Paris sends a message about the country’s tragedy. STORY-LINE: Yemeni artist Murad Subay is doing the finishing touches on his artwork. This is not just a mural in the center of Paris, it is a political statement. “This space that you see now is called ‘The last dance of the dead,'” he says. “It’s inspired from real stories of people died in the war. I tried to convey how the war affects the people in a country like Yemen,” he explains. The painting is part of the artist’s ongoing campaign against the war in his home country. “It’s been forgotten for many years and the war destroyed what the people tried to build during the last seven decades,” he continues. Yemen’s bloody war, which has been fought to a stalemate, has led to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Civilians have suffered the most in the conflict, which has killed over 100,000 people, destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure, displaced millions, and pushed the country’s 30 million people to the brink of famine. The piece is also a statement about the role of the French weapons industry. “They can play a better role in Yemen and instead of selling weapons only so for me I believe, yes I know that the relations between states are not based on emotions, only benefits (profits) but I hope, that at least, because there is people who die,” he adds. Murad’s website says that his art work is an artisitc collaboration with the following eight French organizations: Amnesty, Oxfam, SumOfUs, Action Contre La Faim, Care, Act, Medicine du Monde, and Crisis in Action. “We have regular meetings with the Presidency, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for the Armed Forces to keep defending our cause and systematically, the answer that we get is that France has received guarantees from the countries that bought the weapons that these weapons are not being used against Yemeni civilians and that these weapons are not being used for offensive but only defensive operations,” explains Fanny Petitbon, the advocacy manager for Care. “But these arguments don’t hold against the succession of revelations that there is a very high risk of seeing these weapons being used against civilians and that maintenance contracts still exist and are upheld by France’s arms industry. So we’re asking where these guarantees are,” she continues. Near the mural is a poster where passers-by can sign their name in opposition to the sale of French weapons to Yemen. The mural will be shown for at least a full week.
(15 Mar 2017) LEADIN:
A group of young Yemenis are tackling their feelings on the war through street art.
They painted the walls of a university with messages of peace in the capital Sanaa.
Sitting on the pavement this young man prepares his weapon against the civil war in Yemen.
But it’s not a rifle… it’s a tin of paint.
He’s one of dozens of Yemeni art lovers who’ve gathered in the capital Sanaa to join a street art campaign against Yemen’s devastating two-year war.
The event, dubbed “Open Day for Art”, is held every year on 15 March and is organised by street artist and political activist Murad Subai:
“Of course it is a message for peace and to renounce the political situation we are living in and also the war, hatred and the like, and for diversity. And it is also a message from the Yemeni society to politicians to find a quick solution to this catastrophic situation we are in,” he says.
Participants gather with paint and brushes in central Yemen to cover the walls of a university with messages of peace.
One artist, Haifa Subai, explains the meaning behind her painting, titled “Departing Soldiers”.
“This painting symbolises the call for peace, the end of the war and the ongoing conflict for years in Yemen.”
Another, a graphic designer called Tamam Al-Shibani, underlines the power of painting:
“Art is a great message in which we challenge political and inflammatory rhetoric calling for murder and political conflict,” he says.
The war in Yemen began in 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition waged a devastating air campaign targeting Houthi rebels who seized control of the capital.
The conflict has pushed one of the Arab world’s poorest countries to the brink of famine.