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News > World

Yemeni Women Graffiti Artists Resist Saudi-Led War Through Art

  • Screenshot of one of the artists from the collective, Haifa Subay, signs a mural.

    Screenshot of one of the artists from the collective, Haifa Subay, signs a mural. | Photo: Twitter/ Haifa Subay

Published 27 March 2018

 "The Yemeni woman plays a huge role in society, but she is still marginalized," artist Al Mahjali told the Intercept.

With Yemen marking three years of the brutal West-backed Saudi-led war in the Middle Eastern country, women graffiti artists are occupying walls with protest art recounting the horrors of the war. 

Yemen: Thousands Protest 3 Years of West-backed Saudi War

"I can’t believe the war continues," Haifa Subay, who is based in Sanaa, Yemen's capital, told the Intecept, an investigative news site. "When the fighting first began, I never imagined it would last for years, or even months. Every day I thought, ‘Surely this will be the last day of fighting, surely it has to end soon.’"  

Subay is working on a campaign,  #SilentVictims, which is a series of murals highlighting the human cost of Yemen’s continuing war. “Behind the Destruction,” would be the first in the campaign. 

She used to work at an import-export company lost her job in 2016, after which she sought solace in colors, she used oils and acrylics. 

"We felt forgotten as people," she said. "The war just went on, and when we looked at the news, or the world leaders, they were only concerned with the politics, with the military strategies. No one was talking about our suffering, about the human beings of Yemen." 

"I realized the politicians and the media were not going to see us, so I had to make them see,” she told Sarah Aziza of the Intercept.  

Subay's paintings, which address a wide range of issues pertaining to the war including the gruesome effects of shelling and landmines, is part of an all women's group. “This was a choice from the beginning,” Subay said, “because these are the most overlooked people in the war. And they suffer terribly." 

"The Yemeni woman plays a huge role in society, but she is still marginalized," another artist, Al Mahjali, told the Intercept. "Even if a woman has achievements or talents equal to men, she is still not seen as important as a man. We want to see that change."

Last week, U.S. State Department came under fire by several human rights groups for approving arms sales worth over US$1 billion to Saudi Arabia, which may be used in Yemen.

As part of the deal, a US$670 million deal for 6,600 TOW anti-missile tanks, along with a US$106 million contract for helicopter maintenance and US$300 million spare parts for military vehicles were agreed on, the department said in a statement Thursday.

"This proposed sale will support US foreign policy and national security objectives by improving the security of a friendly country," the statement read. Amnesty International has severely condemned the United States for the deal in a statement Friday.  

"There is extensive evidence that irresponsible arms flows to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition have resulted in enormous harm to Yemeni civilians. But this has not deterred the USA, the UK and other states, including France, Spain, and Italy, from continuing transfers of billions of dollars’ worth of such arms. As well as devastating civilian lives, this makes a mockery of the global Arms Trade Treaty," said Lynn Maalouf, Director of Research for the Middle East at Amnesty International, in a statement.

"Three years on, Yemen’s conflict shows no real signs of abating, and all sides continue to inflict horrific suffering on the civilian population. Schools and hospitals lie in ruins, thousands have lost their lives and millions are displaced and in dire need of humanitarian aid." 

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