Murad Subay: Yemen’s war makes a month feel like a year\ By: KIERAN ETORIA-KING


Murad Subay: Yemen’s war makes a month feel like a year

The Index award winner talks about his fears of a possible escalation of the conflict in Yemen
03 Feb 2017

US president Donald Trump’s executive order banning citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from travelling to the USA for has had devastating consequences for thousands of people. Among them is Index on Censorship Award winner Murad Subay. The Yemeni street artist is now unable to visit his wife, who is currently studying in the USA.

“It’s really frustrating to even start thinking that I won’t be able to see her for that long,” he told Index. “She was supposed to visit during summer break, however, it seems that she can’t do that now.”


With uncertainty surrounding how the Trump administration’s policy towards Yemen will play out, the couple are now facing the very real prospect of not seeing each other until she finishes her studies four years from now.

“It’s been a really difficult time for both of us because it’s the first time we’ve been away from each other for more than a month,” Subay said. “I can’t say that this doesn’t have its negative effects on my work, for it surely does.”

At home, the worries that have plagued Subay throughout the Obama administration remain, particularly Trump’s continuation – and possible escalation – of his predecessor’s drone strikes in Yemen, which by February 2016 had killed up to 729 Yemenis including 100 civilians. One rural counter-terrorism raid authorised by Trump has already left at least 10 women and children dead, according to Al-Jazeera.

2016 Freedom of Expression Fellow Murad Subay

Murad Subay is the 2016 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Arts Award-winner and fellow. His practice involves Yemenis in creating murals that protest the country’s civil war. Read more about Subay’s work.

“Trump has no right to make things even worse for Yemenis. Yemen is already suffering from US arms deals with Saudi Arabia that helped fuel this war. Barring Yemenis from entering the USA under his administration only adds to these troubles.”

The war has been hitting close to home for Subay in recent months. Two of his cousins were recruited by warring parties and killed on the battlefield. – Fuad Subay, aged 26, was a soldier killed in Albuka’a, and Yaser Subay, just 14, was recruited by Houthis and killed in Isilan.

On top of this, a close friend of his, the respected investigative journalist Mohammed Alabsi, was killed in an apparent assassination. According to the Yemen Times, Alabsi had gone out for dinner in Sana’a with a cousin on 20 December. A little while later both men were rushed to hospital, where Alabsi died.

“I was told that blood came out of his ears and eyes,” Subay said. “Mohammed was investigating the black markets trading in oil that were associated with high-ranking politicians. I do not know the exact details of this, but what I do know is that Yemen has lost one of its most important and noblest investigative journalists, and that I lost a dear friend.”

An investigation into Alabsi’s death is underway.

Subay addressed a recent wave of violence against civilians, including journalists and public figures, in a mural entitled Assassination’s Eye, painted on the Mathbah Bridge in Sana’a in late December. Part of the Ruins Campaign, the minimalist painting depicts a sniper’s crosshairs training in on a human target.

“It conveys the assassin’s point of view, where it first feels like it is only a part of training on how to hit a target, but then in the final square the bullet ends up in the head of a real person rather than a target board,” Subay explained. “These assassinations have spread vastly since 2012, where they were mostly carried out among the military ranks and politicians. Lately, however, these operations have been targeting civilians too. I was planning to address this issue some time ago after hearing about the assassinations of innocent civilians in different places of the country, and that was just two weeks before I was shocked by the death of my friend.”

Elsewhere, Subay has been asked to serve as a judge for the Italian arts award, Fax for Peace, which invites students and artists from around the world to send pictures, videos or animations on the themes of peace, tolerance, human rights and the fight against all forms of racism. He said of the role: “It is a great pleasure to be selected as a judge in this contest and it is a big responsibility, which I hope to be able to carry out effectively.”

However, with Yemen’s economic circumstances ever worsening, and many working people now into their fourth month without receiving salaries, he sees difficult times ahead.

“It’s very harsh to see people every day looking for anything to eat from garbage, waiting along with children in rows to get water from the public containers in the streets, or the ever increasing number of beggars in the streets. They are exhausted, as if it’s not enough that they had to go through all of the ugliness brought upon them by the war.”

Referring to the deaths of his cousins and his close friend, he added: “No one can live in this country and not be affected by the war. This all happened in the last three or four months. These events make a month in Yemen feel like a year.”

Continue reading “Murad Subay: Yemen’s war makes a month feel like a year\ By: KIERAN ETORIA-KING”

My mural “Assassination’s Eye”, Ruins campaign


ما زالت الكوارث تتوالى على هذا البلد وشعبه، حروب انتجت الموت والجوع والخوف، وكأن البلد لم تكتفي من هذا بل وجاءت كارثة اخرى إلى هذه الكومة المفجعة وهي عمليات “الإغتيالات” والتصفيات.
منذ اعوام وعمليات التصفيات والإغتيالات السياسية تمشي على قدم وساق في جميع مناطق اليمن، بدأت التصفيات في صفوف الجيش منتقلة لصفوف السياسيين ومؤخرا انتقلت إلى صفوف المواطنين والمدنيين. إستمرار هذا الوضع وهذه العمليات، يجعل اليمن بلد خالي من الحياه ومن التنوع، ويبعدنا تماما عن سلام قريب.
الشعب اليمني منهك من هذا الوضع المستمر بالتدهور الهائل، على جميع الأصعدة. لن يُحكم هذا البلد بالحديد والنار ولا بالخوف والجوع والموت وعلى اصحاب القرار ان يصلوا بهذا البلد بأسرع ما يمكن إلى وقف لهذا التدهور الذي سيطالهم عاجلا أم اجلا ان استمر.

جداريتي “عين الإغتيال” ضمن حملة “حُطام” على جدار جسر مذبح المقابل لمستشفى العلوم والتكنولوجيا، 29 ديسمبر 2016.

Disasters are still coming down on this country and its people, where war is leaving behind death, hunger and fear. Now another disaster is on the rise, “assassinations, adding to the misery of this country as if the tragedy happening in Yemen is not enough. Political assassinations and the extrajudicial killings have been thriving in many regions in Yemen. These operations began among military ranks, and then moved to target politicians, until recently it shifted into targeting civilians. The continuation of this situation and these operations turns Yemen into a lifeless country and deny it its diversity and peace. Yemenis are exhausted from this rapidly deteriorating situation. There must be another way out, for no country in the world should be governed by iron, fire, fear, hunger and death. Decision-makers must end this situation as soon as possible or it will eventually reach them.

My mural “Assassination’s Eye” #Ruins_Campaign, on Mathbah bridge wall, December 29, 2016.

Assassination's Eye1
Assassination’s Eye1