Friday, October 2, 2015

Beyond Borders - Women, War & Peacemaking

Last August, I spoke at Beyond Borders in Scotland where I had to depict the pain of my beloved Yemen, & I tried my best in naming & shaming the UK gov' for its arm sales w/ the Saudis.. other speakers included the Iraqi parliamentarian, Shirouk Alabayachi; she had valuable inputs about ISIS. (Funny how the panel was supposed to focus only on women in conflict & we, the women speakers rolled up our sleeves & talked about that and the hard talks too, Politics. Women can talk politics too, you know..)

Who can hear Yemenis?

AS the bombings intensify in Yemen, dozens of messages from people know in person & who I don't know have been pouring into my fb & email inbox. It's almost the same message, "tell the world that the situation is unbearable in Yemen, Afrah! The killed ones had mercy from Allah, but we, the living ones are going through a slow death. Tell the world, Afrah! Nobody hears us, but you are heard, Afrah!"

Such messages made insomnia my new best friend. As I'm about to finish reading this second book about trauma, I hope I'll get back a little peace of mind & write more & more & 'tell the world' about the tragedy in my country & the agony & pain my people are going through. Until then, these sleepless nights are bombing my head & soul, & I fear I'm wasting time while I'm this paralysed & not writing enough - I should be telling the world.

You know what, it's really a fucking cruel world out there. Most of the "world" has been bought by the Saudi money; even our fucking president, Hadi was bought by the Saudis' money. Each missile & each rocket fired at Yemen is done with the blessings of that mother-fucker president. Then, how can we, poor activists & journalists & bloggers can face the Saudis' power/money/dominance/hegemony-machine? 

Forget about us the [intellectuals]! What ordinary people in Yemen & from Yemen, who are shattered around the world now, what they feel most painful is how painful it is to be neglected & abandoned, not only by the "world" but also by their own fucking president, Hadi. You know that Saudi promised to give the UN big money to address the humanitarian plight in Yemen with 1 condition that's: to be distributed in the Saudi-Hadi liberated areas only. And let the rest of the country starve to death. What kind of a moron president would allow that to happen to his own people, country?! Outrageous is an insufficient word!

Who can hear Yemenis? Who can hear their out-cries? Who can save Yemen? Who..

Monday, September 21, 2015

One year on, Yemen rebels still hold Sanaa despite air campaign

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Realignment of Yemen's Identity Politics

Yemen in Sam Kalda's illustration

*As a blogger on Human Rights issues in Yemen for the past six years, I am stunned by the growing polarisation in the country; to take an even-handed stance for human rights is either viewed as treasonous act, or as a sectarian bias. If you criticise both the Saudi-led Arab coalition air strikes and the Houthi-Saleh alliance forces, the supporters of both camps accuse you of supporting one side over the other. It’s us or them, both sides maintain; no middle ground.

Throughout my activism, it was easy for me to remain in that middle ground due to my mixed Ethiopian-Yemeni background which influenced my strong faith in fundamental human rights for all people, regardless of their color of skin, ethnicity, gender, religious belief, etc. Having myself lived some of the ugly consequences of the abuse of human rights, in my case, that is racism, I developed a great sensibility of Yemen’s identity politics. Today, I perceive how people's definition of their identities in Yemen - whether in line with tribal, sectarian or class-based affinities - is realigning itself along with the new political order.


Growing up in Yemen, a country with a strict hierarchical class system was not an easy thing, especially for someone like myself with mixed-ethnic identity. My story, like the story of many multi-ethnic Yemenis, goes back to the time when my two Yemeni grandfathers, frustrated by the economic and political situation, had a leap of faith and left Yemen to find a better life elsewhere.

Yemeni ports served as a conduit for migration. Due geographic proximity, the African horn was the destination for many migration waves coming from Yemen. Going east was also a popular destination for southeastern Yemenis. For my northern grandfathers Ethiopia was the choice of destination. They settled and married two Ethiopian ladies (my grandmothers) and had children (among them are my later-to-be my parents). It is estimated that there were 300,000 - 400,000 Yemenis in Ethiopia at that time. Following the revolution of 1962 in north of Yemen, the revolution of 1963 in its South and the dictatorship of Mengistu in their host country, many Yemeni migrants, including my grandparents, decided to go back to their home country in the 1970s. Some were forced to go back to Yemen by the emergence of communism in Ethiopia and its nationalisation policies that ripped them off the little wealth they worked hard to create, yet some were lured by the political change that had taken place at home. With a revolutionary perspective, Yemen’s former president, the late Ibrahim Al Hamdi was a key figure in calling on Yemenis abroad to return as he embarked on the road of nation building. Thus, my Yemeni-Ethiopian parents migrated back to Yemen.

by Sam Kalda

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Pro-Houthi Rebels Detain Prominent Writer, Al-Madhaji & Other Dissidents

Before holding the executive directory of the
newly-founded, SCSS, Al-Madhaji has
been a prolific writer on democracy, politics
 and human rights issues in Yemen.  

 "The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies (SCSS) strongly condemns the detention of its Executive Director, Maged Al-Madhaji, by armed forces loyal to the Houthi rebel movement. On Saturday morning, September 19th, Madhaji was arrested at a protest demanding freedom for Yemenis held extrajudicially by the Houthis and their allies, along with journalist Mahmoud Yassin , Bassim Al-Warafi and the founders of Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, Radhya Al-Mutawakel and Abdulrasheed Al-Faqih. Mutawakel has been released. Regretfully, the rest remain in detention.
Today's arrests of civil society activists constitute the latest in a series of blatant civil liberty violations that have seen armed groups in Yemen attempt to silence dissident voices in the country." –SCSS 

Dozens of journalists and anti-Houthi activists have been abducted and detained by pro-Houthi rebels for over the past year.