Short doc by Videographer Michael Kirby Smith & Producer Casey L Coombs in collaboration with HRW, highlighting the frustrations of relatives of Yemeni GITMO inmates that they claim continue to be held to a different, unjust legal standard.
Frame from Human Rights Watch documentary Michael Kirby Smith (filmed) and I (produced) in the Saudi border town Haradh, de facto capital of human trafficking networks saturating Yemen’s Red Sea coast. View film here
…more than two years into the process and despite the impetus given to the new democratization era by interim President Abd Rabu Mansur Hadi, the anti-corruption agenda is still grappling with a culture of impunity in which people are reluctant to blow the whistle out of fear of losing their jobs, donor funding or worse.
The founder of a local human rights foundation, who requested anonymity, said Saleh’s overthrow dismantled one patronage system only to create a plethora of opportunities for new actors to exploit, increasing the competition.
CASEY COOMBS & HANNAH POPPY / JAN 2014 CTC SENTINEL Vol 7 Issue 1
In the last two weeks of September 2013, al-Qa`ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) executed a series of complex attacks on Yemeni army installations. AQAP claimed responsibility for the operations in a stream of online media releases, one of which pictured al-Qa`ida’s amir of Abyan Province, Jalal Muhsin Balidi al-Murqoshi (also known as Abu Hamza), warning special forces soldiers captured in the raids against cooperating with the U.S.-backed counterterrorism alliance in Sana`a. “There is no issue between the soldiers and us, except when they have made themselves armors for this oppressive lackey government,” al-Murqoshi said. “This soldier is the one who has lured himself into a protecting vest for the tawaghit (tyrants).”
Tik Root, Casey Coombs / April 30, 2013
“I’m prepared to go to Guantanamo and pay for the ticket. I’d go there naked.”
SANA’A, 11 April 2013 (IRIN) – Record numbers of migrants from the Horn of Africa are crossing into Yemen, most of them on their way to find better opportunities in Saudi Arabia and other rich Gulf countries. But many do not make it any further. Seeking a new life, they end up unwitting victims of a smuggling racket designed to exploit the migrants at each juncture of their journey.
Recent years have seen Ethiopians make up the majority of these migrants: Of the 107,000 recorded migrants crossing the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden into Yemen in 2012, around 80,000 were from Ethiopia.
Four irregular migrants with diverse backgrounds, all from Ethiopia, told IRIN about their journeys to Yemen.* While their stories differ in details, they all share a similar set of experiences: brutality, broken promises and extortion.
Marta, mid-30s, from Dire Dawa, eastern Ethiopia:
Marta says she fled Ethiopia in 2010 when she and her family were accused of supporting the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a state-designated terrorist group. “The government said, ‘You are with the party of OLF,’ and chased us out of country. I don’t know where my family ended up.”
“I spent a year and a half in Djibouti, where I gave birth to my daughter. After her father disappeared, we left for Yemen. I paid a broker 10,000 Djiboutian francs [about US$55] to ride in a boat with 15 others from Djibouti to Yemen.
“Our night-time crossing of the Red Sea was calm until the end. As we neared the Yemeni coast, the owner of the boat, who was part of the smuggling operation, threw us into the sea. No one knew how to swim because in Ethiopia, we don’t have a sea, just lakes. The brokers and their thugs were waiting for us as we came ashore. They raped me and the other women. I’m 9 months pregnant with a child from that night.
By Casey L Coombs & Sharon Weinberger / 11 January 2013
Yemen’s reality is at odds with much of what TED – which grew out of a laid-back Silicon Valley scene – seems to represent. For many outside the region, which once flourished thanks to the ancient spice routes, the country has become known for drone strikes against Al Qaeda suspects and for the 2011 protests – inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt – that led to the overthrow of its leader.