Editor’s letter: All hail those who speak out\ On “Index” UK

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Editor’s letter: All hail those who speak out

17 Sep 2020BY

RACHAEL JOLLEY

The brave stand up when others are afraid to do so. Let’s remember how hard that is to do, says Rachael Jolley in the autumn 2020 issue of Index on Censorship magazine.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a dissenting voice. Throughout her career she has not been afraid to push back against the power of the crowd when very few were ready for her to do so.

The US Supreme Court justice may be a popular icon right now, but when she set her course to be a lawyer she was in a definite minority.

For many years she was the only woman on the court bench, and she was prepared to be a solitary voice when she felt it was vital to do so, and others strongly disagreed.

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Freedom of Expression Award 2016 Speech – Murad Subay

 

“I am honored to be here with all of you today and for that, I would like to thank Index on Censorship for giving me this award, for believing in me and for acknowledging our work back home.

I want to thank my friends who join me every time I paint the walls of the streets and who share with me the same concerns over the issues that are really important. I also want to thank the good people of Yemen who have always supported us and who were the spirit of every campaign I launched to paint in the streets.

I would like to take this opportunity tonight to shed light on one of the biggest concerns for me and for many Yemenis. As many of you know, Yemen is going through one of the hardest times in its history, with the outbreak of internal and regional armed conflicts. Yemenis suffered greatly even before these conflicts broke out, and they’re going through this alone, but it seems that the heavy losses that Yemenis endure every day isn’t enough yet to capture the interest of the international community and media.

I dedicate this award today to the unknown people who struggle to survive, and I do not talk about those who are fighting the war with their weapons. Rather, I talk about every person who suffers a serious injury, who lost a family member or a loved one, who lost their home, school and job and who struggles to keep their family alive when they were starved to death. Those women, men and children are the real heroes that we should all bow to in respect for moving on and holding on to life.

Therefore, for the world’s presidents, kings and leaders who misused their power, it is true that you might never be tried, but you should know that you are leaving behind a dirty legacy in the time when you should concentrate on the real issues that face humanity, rather than throwing mindless wars and engaging the world in killing one another.

Again, I thank Index on Censorship and all its team for this award, and I thank you all for listening to me sharing my concern with you. Let’s hope for peace to prevail in Yemen as soon as it can be.

Thank you.”

 

#INDEXAWARDS2016: MURAD SUBAY SHEDS LIGHT ON HUMAN COST OF YEMEN’S WAR

 

#IndexAwards2016: Murad Subay sheds light on human cost of Yemen’s war

By Georgia Hussey, 18 March 2016

In 2011, artist Murad Subay took to the streets of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a to protest the country’s dysfunctional economy and institutionalised corruption, and to bring attention to a population besieged by conflict. Choosing street art as his medium of protest, he’s since run five campaigns to promote peace and art, and to discuss sensitive political and social issues in society. Unlike many street artists, all his painting is done in public, during the day, often with passers by getting involved themselves.

Murad Subay

Since 2011, jihadist attacks and sectarian clashes have engulfed Yemen, and in 2015 a civil war began between two factions claiming to constitute the Yemeni government. The exiled Yemeni government, backed by a Saudi-led coalition stood against the Houthi militia, and those loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and backed by Iran.

In the last seven months the conflict has hit the already unstable country, leading to over 21 million people – 82 percent of the population – needing humanitarian assistance. In addition, a strong Al-Qaeda presence has drawn repeated drone strikes from the United States.

“Yemenis live under catastrophic conditions due to the conflicts, considering that they are already one of the poorest nations in the world,” Subay told Index. “They lack food, water and medicine, and they are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.” With his art, Subay aims to highlight the situation in which millions of Yemenis find themselves in today.

Murad started his graffiti campaigns with The Walls Remember Their Faces, drawing the faces of Yemeni citizens who had been forcibly disappeared.

“This particular campaign meant so much to me,” he said. “I felt that I got closer to those people every time we painted their faces. Almost every week people came holding the picture of their long disappeared family member, so that we paint it on the walls.”

He then began Colour the Walls of Your Street, claiming back the bombed remains of Yemen’s capital, followed by 12 Hours in 2013. 12 Hours was an hour-by-hour series with each piece depicting one of 12 problems facing Yemen, including weapons proliferation, sectarianism, kidnapping and poverty. The project used social media to call Yemeni citizens to action, painting walls with messages about government and policy across Yemen’s capital.
His latest campaign Ruins was initiated in May 2015, in collaboration with artist Thi Yazen. The project involves them painting on the walls of buildings damaged by the war, to provide a memorial for the thousands of war victims, and to highlight war crimes.

Subay has faced pressure from the authorities, who have covered his work or stopped him from extending his campaigns to other towns. However ordinary Yemenis — including victims’ families — have gotten behind his campaigns by painting alongside Subay, or repainting pieces “scrubbed out” by authorities.

Murad Subay continues to shed light on the human cost of the war, taking his murals to other cities in Yemen, including Aden, Taizz, Ebb and Hodeidah.

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