‘Nobody taking responsibility for Yemen war’ – Arab Banksy to RT

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‘Nobody taking responsibility for Yemen war’ – Arab Banksy to RT

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With the Yemeni conflict showing no signs of easing, RT spoke to a graffiti artist who’s been capturing the horrors and hardships with his brush and paint. He believes that, even amidst unrelenting war, art can bring people together.

“Yemen was dragged into a catastrophic war, and ordinary civilians are paying a high cost for it, and they will be paying it for decades,”Murad Subay, whose work recently started catching the attention of mainstream media, told RT. Subay, who not only creates graffiti himself, but also organizes mass workshops, says he is using his artwork to draw attention to the dire conditions in Yemen.

“There’s no responsibility, no sympathy with the difficulties Yemeni people are facing there.”

 

“It’s a catastrophic war, and no one is taking responsibility for it. We hope that the voice of reason will be heard, and the war will be stopped, so that we can overcome the consequences of this catastrophe,” he says.

READ MORE: UN ‘estimates’ death toll in Yemen war surpassed 10,000

Subay, who is already an award-winning artist, seems genuinely uninterested in pursuing glory and fame for the sake of it. He daubs the walls of ruined Yemeni houses with haunting images of war and starving children, and tents for the displaced with pictures of barbed wire or dream-homes, traveling across Yemen despite the dangers – all of it “for the sake of peace.”

His graffiti metaphorically depicts the ugliness of war, like a malnourished child locked in a blood-red coffin or a small girl about to pick up a flower sticking from a landmine that’s about to explode.

However, instead of speaking about his own art, he told RT of the effort he’s been making along other Yemeni artists to promote art and unite Yemeni people under its aegis. Subay and others have been gathering in the capital, Sanaa, every year since the conflict began, painting illustrations of war on what was left of the city’s streets after bombings. And they have been joined by ordinary people of all ages, who wanted to paint their war, too.

“Art is not confined to the boundaries of one social class, not only artists create it. In modern conditions art can be practiced by everyone – children, youths and adults. Every [year] we invite people, they go out to the streets and make their artwork, each in their own colors. There is no social order, all is done voluntarily and without fanaticism.”

“[…] This is the art of the Yemeni streets. That’s what we do,” he says, describing the initiative launched in an effort to highlight the impact the Yemeni conflict is having on the population. He points out that the initiative has now become a tradition, calling it a “Yemeni phenomenon.”

“This Yemeni phenomenon is recognized worldwide. Articles are published about it, scientific universities are studying it as a social phenomenon – that of bringing people together in drawing,” Subay tells RT. The media has been so enthralled by his activities lately, he even got a nickname: the Banksy of Yemen, or Arab Banksy.

The original Banksy is the brush name of an anonymous British artist who’s also gained fame with his murals and paintings on sharp social and political issues. Among his best -known recent artworks are murals set among ruins of the Gaza war and ‘Steve Jobs the son of Syrian migrant’ picture in the Calais refugee camp.

READ MORE: Child malnutrition at ‘all-time high’ in Yemen, UNICEF claims in alarming report

Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen in support of exiled President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi at the end of March 2015, after Houthi rebels loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, backed by Iran, took over Sanaa. According to the latest UN data, the death toll in the Yemeni conflict has now surpassed 10,000 people, and almost 40,000 more have been wounded. Some 14 million civilians are in need of food aid and some 462,000 children are suffering acute malnutrition.

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Yemen conflict all but ignored by the West\ On “DW”

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Yemen conflict all but ignored by the West

Atrocities are being committed against an innocent Yemeni population on a scale as serious as Syria and Iraq. But why doesn’t this story get as much media attention as those conflicts? Gouri Sharma reports.

When the UN children’s rights organization UNICEF recently released a report stating that at least one child dies every 10 minutes in Yemen, the expectation was that the news would be picked up by international news outlets. But barring a few exceptions, including Al Jazeera and DW, the news was not carried by much of the global media prominently, and some not at all.

 

In its report, the humanitarian organization estimated that more than 400,000 Yemeni children are at risk of starvation, and a further 2.2 million are in need of urgent care. How could it be that statistics this alarming, the result of a war involving regional superpowers with the backing of the US and UK, does not make headline news?

But people close to the story say this example is just a reflection of how the war in Yemen is covered by the global media.

Yemen and the western media

It’s not that the conflict isn’t covered, but when it is, news outlets tend to focus on the ‘Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia versus the Shia Iran proxy war’ narrative which overlooks the country’s deepening humanitarian crisis.

Yemen, a country of 24 million people, has endured political strife for decades, but the situation worsened in March 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition began airstrikes with the aim of reinstating President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who had been ousted by the Houthi rebel group. The Houthis are said to be backed by Saudi Arabia’s regional political foe, Iran.

Since the bombing began, the UN estimates that more than 10,000 innocent people have been killed, 69 percent of the country is in need of humanitarian assistance, and three million people have been forced to flee their homes.

Wie die Medien über den Krieg im Yemen berichten (Murad Subay) Although atrocities are committed on a daily basis, the conflict in Yemen seems to have dropped off the radar

It’s a complex political situation and those closest to it – the local journalists – have been forced to stop telling the story because of the dangers they’ve been facing. The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based press freedom watchdog, has recorded the deaths of at least six journalists caught in the crossfire since the start of the Saudi campaign. In its latest report, the Yemeni Journalist Syndicate said that more than 100 press violations were committed in the first six months of 2016, including 10 cases of attempted murder, 24 abductions and disappearances, and 12 cases of assaults on journalists and their offices. The situation for foreign journalists isn’t any better, amid reports that those who get access can be subject to harassment and kidnappings.

Afrah Nasser, an independent Yemeni journalist who is based in Sweden, told DW: “When western news outlets cover Yemen it’s often ‘parachute journalism.’ This is mainly because it’s been hard to access Yemen and if you want to get in you have to get permission from the Saudis and the Houthis. For foreign journalists, it’s become hell to enter or leave the country and a trip that used to take a few hours might now take days or even weeks.”

But Iraq and Syria, which has ranked as the world’s most dangerous place for journalists for at least two years in a row, are considered more difficult for journalists to report from than Yemen, yet both countries receive much more media coverage.

Syria, Iraq more ‘newsworthy’

Yemeni activists and journalists point to one other major factor as to why the country is kept lower down on news agendas. Many of the people attempting to get to Europe are from Syria and Iraq so western news audiences are more affected by the what’s happening in those countries than what’s happening in Yemen – news editors may not deem the war newsworthy enough for their audiences.

Watch video 05:27

Yemen’s forgotten war

“There isn’t a direct or immediate threat coming to western countries from Yemen,” Baraa Shiban, a London-based Yemeni human rights activist, tells DW. “There are no ‘waves’ of Yemeni refugees crossing the Mediterranean because it’s too far and if there are refugees they remain few in numbers. This is also related to the threat western countries feel they are facing. Dealing with the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) tops the list for western politicians. IS has claimed attacks inside Europe and such attacks could happen again. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been busy hitting inside Yemen – recently killing soldiers in Aden – but it’s limited in its ability to hit in Europe or the US.”

Coverage could also be affected by who is involved in Yemen – and who isn’t. “Any journalist or researcher who tries to dig deeper into the situation will see it’s a local conflict, especially when we talk about specific places like Taiz, a city in the south which has been living under siege for the past year and a half by forces loyal to the former president, along with the Houthi rebels who come from the north. If you compare that with the situation in Aleppo, you have Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. That’s a more interesting story with international and regional powers,” says Shiban.

The biggest known player involved in Yemen is Saudi Arabia, who has been carrying out its military campaign with arms brought from the US and Britain. In December, the US announced it would be halting an arms deal worth $350 million to the Kingdom amid concerns of the coalition’s indiscriminate bombing inside the country. But up until that point, President Obama had reportedly sold arms to the tune of $115 billion (107 billion euros) to Riyadh during his eight years in office – more than any US administration in history.

Wie die Medien über den Krieg im Yemen berichten (Murad Subay) Many local observers accuse western media and western governments of double standards when it comes to Yemen

Double standards

The UK, meanwhile, approved 3.3 billion pounds (3.7 billion euros) worth of arms to the Kingdom in the first 12 months of its bombardment of Yemen. So it may not make for good business sense for the corporate media in the US and the British mainstream media to cover a war and the negative impact it’s having on civilian life when their governments are making huge profits from it.

“If there is one country in the world that has the most gross double-standards, it’s the UK. As long as the Saudis are their ally, they can overlook any of atrocities committed by their friend. Yemenis’ blood means nothing when Saudi’s cash is on the table and if you’re a foreign journalist, some big media outlets won’t buy your story because they don’t want to annoy the Saudis,” says Nasser.

But amidst all the reasoning, the facts remain. Atrocities are still being committed against innocent people on a daily basis and a humanitarian crisis is worsening as millions of people lack basic food and water supplies.

Murad Subay, an internationally renowned Yemeni street artist who has been using his art to call for peace, says that the situation in Syria should serve as a warning. “What happened in Syria is an example of where the world ignored the crisis until it turned into catastrophic war. We as citizens of the world have a responsibility to pressure countries to stop engaging in Yemen’s war and to stop selling the arms that fuel it. People suffering in faraway places doesn’t make the rest of the world immune from it. People everywhere should care because it is the right thing to do, because what’s happening is wrong and inhumane.”

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Au Yemen, Murad Subay préfère se battre avec des pinceaux\ Open Minded

 

Au Yemen, Murad Subay préfère se battre avec des pinceaux

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Le banksy yéménite

Artiste de 29 ans né au Yemen, Murad Subay est le Banksy local. Mais contrairement au street artist britannique qui dissimule son identité, Murad Subay expose son visage et ses oeuvres à la vue de tous. C’est en 2001 qu’il commence à peindre sur les murs de Sanaa, la capitale du Yemen et c’est presque seul qu’il lance, dans un pays divisé et en guerre le street art yéménite. Et dans une dictature, pas évident de faire des graffitis politiques sans être inquiéter. 

 

Murad

Cependant, Murad Subay n’a pas toujours été un artiste pacifiste. En 2011, il est un des leaders du printemps arabe au Yemen, durement réprimé par le régime. Mais au moment où ces camarades prennent les armes, il choisit le pinceau et les bombe de peintures. Aujourd’hui pacifiste , Murad Subay dénoncent sur les murs de son pays les atrocités de la guerre civile opposant les miliciens chiites au régime sunnite soutenu par l’Arabie Saoudite et les États-Unis. L’artiste combat aussi l’intégrisme religieux caractérisé par la forte présence d’Al Qaida dans la région mais aussi la politique interventionniste des États-Unis, symbolisé par les attaques quotidiennes de drones.
pourquoi ??

Sa première campagne « colore les murs de ta ville » a été lancé en 2012 juste après les affrontements qui avait secoué la capitale. La campagne visait à effacer les traces du conflit dans les zones les plus touchées. Il encourageait ainsi les passants et les habitants sur les réseaux sociaux à venir peindre des messages de paix sur les ruines des immeubles détruits par les obus et les balles. Cette campagne a duré trois mois et s’est étendue à d’autres villes du pays comme Aden, Taizz.

 

Murad 5

En 2012, il lance sa deuxième campagne, « les murs se souviennent de leurs visages ». Elle présentait les visages de policiers, civils et opposants politiques disparus. Dans un pays où toute contestation est sévèrement réprimée, sa démarche a pourtant fait le tour du pays et ces visages oubliés ont pu atteindre des provinces reculées. Souvent ironique et irrévérencieux, Murad Subay n’a pas encore été censuré ou intimidé par le gouvernement à l’inverse des extrémistes religieux qui l’ont menacé de mort.

 

Murad 9

« 12 Hours », sa campagne la plus récente mettait en avant les 12 plus gros problèmes rencontrés par la société yéménite. Vaste programme pour un pays déchiré par la guerre civile. On peut citer au delà du terrorisme et de la dictature le trafic d’armes, les enlèvements, le trafic d’organes et d’êtres humains ou encore les frappes de drones. Avec sa démarche positive, l’artiste a reçu des récompenses liés à l’art ou encore le soutien de l’ONU qu’il a préféré rejeter pour maintenir son autonomie.

Murad 1

Murad

En l’espace de deux ans, Murad Subay a peint sur plus de 2000 murs dans tous le pays, invitant quiconque le souhaite à venir participer. « Mes campagnes ne seraient rien sans les gens, même des soldats baissent leurs armes pour donner des coups de pinceaux » dit l’artiste. Et entre la guerre civile, le sectarisme religieux et l’ingérence étrangère, les modestes peintures politiques de Murad Subay ne peuvent être que positives et saines dans une société dictatoriale ravagée par la violence.

 

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Article link..

“Murad Subay” an article by the amazing Lydia Noon, in the printed magazine “New Internationalist”

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“Do you think art can increase global awareness of Yemen’s humanitarian crisis?
Art is often used to send powerful messages, especially when it discusses the issues that concern people. Art can be understood globally; it is a universal an peaceful language. For this reason, I believe that using this medium to highlght the ‘forgotten’ Yemeni crisis and conflict might help in getting some of the attention that we need.”

New Internationalist, Murad Subay
New Internationalist, Murad Subay