Two young Yemeni men, originally from the southern city of Aden, were killed last week for overtaking a wedding procession of a sheikh (tribal leader) in Yemen's capital Sanaa. On Wednesday May 15,2013, Khalid Al-Khateeb and his friend Hassan Aman were driving in their car when they came across a tribal wedding procession and were shot to death for overtaking the convoy. The wedding convoy belonged to Sheikh Ali Abd Rabo Al-Awadhi, a member in Yemen's Islah party and a member of the National Dialogue, which is ironically participating in the southern issue working group. What was more disturbing is that the procession was escorted by a police car assigned for the sheikh's protection. According to reports, while the sheikh's guards shot in cold blood the two youth, the policemen did nothing to stop them. Moreover, instead of fulfilling their lawful duties and arresting the assailants, they took off with them leaving the corpses of Khalid and Hasan behind.
Alaa Isam, an activist and blogger from Aden, tweeted about the crime:
@AlaaIsam: Escorts to #tribal sheikh from Islah Party kill 2 young people from #Aden in one of the streets of #Sanaa #SouthYemen @hrw #NDCYE #YF #Yemen
Naji Alkadi tweeted:
He sarcastically tweeted a warning image [ar]:
We request the ministry of Interior in Yemen to put this warning on cars belonging to sheikhs
Mohammed Fadhl a Yemeni who lives in Malaysia, tweeted [ar]:
The people facing tribal sheikhs, Yemen, for these and more others, yes to a Yemen without barbarism and arrogance
The National Dialogue Conference members hung their meeting for two consecutive days to protest the cold blooded murder of the youth caused by one of their participating members.
Adam Baron, a correspondent for several news firms, based in Yemen, tweeted:
Today, @ndcye was shut down early in protest of the deaths of 2 youths allegedly killed by the son of sheikh ali abdo rabbu al-awadhi #yemen
Journalist Nasser Arrabyee also tweeted:
@narrabyee: For the 2nd day, Yemen dialogue members not working to demand arrest & trial of Islamist leader's guards who killed 2 southerners n Sanaa.
Lawyer Haykal Bafana shared a cartoon by Yemeni cartoonist Rashad Alsamey, who sarcastically depicted the police's reaction to the murder of the two youth:
The cold blooded murder caused an outcry throughout Yemen, especially among activists who organized several protests in Sanaa and Aden to condemn the crime and demand justice for the families of the victims and put an end to sheikhs literally getting away with murder. Yemen is a tribal society and tribal sheikhs have a special social status and have been given rights and protection by the government. Many have exploited this privilege. Carrying weapons and being escorted by guards is also part of the tribal trait. Both are privileges which the youth are strongly fighting against and trying hard to to stir Yemen away from these practices in their aspiration for a civil state where everyone is safe and equal under the law.
Rasha Jarhum, a Yemeni human rights activist, who is based in Lebanon, said:
@rrj_934: We wanted a civil state, the revolution 2 yrs later z a joke, our youth r being killed by savages entourage of idiot sheikhs #yemen
She urged [ar]:
Be silent today and you will be the victim tomorrow .. justice for the case of martyrs Hassan and Khalid.. we demand arresting the criminals
Yemen's Human Rights minister, Hooria Mashhour tweeted demanding the rule of law over tribal authority:
@Hooria_Mashhour: Tribes should not replace and/or function like the State Authorities to fulfill our dreams of building #CivilizedYemen
An organized protest march called the “Justice march for Hassan and Khalid” was held in the capital Sanaa, last Thursday, May 23rd, to condemn the brutal murder and demand justice for the families of the slain youth. Hana Alshowafi, a young activist who participated in the protest, tweeted a photo:
A photo from the protest march demanding handing in the murderers of #Hassan_Amman and #Khaled_Alkhateeb, their fault is that they over-took a convoy
Among the chants in the protest as tweeted by Hanan were:”hey civility where are you, where are you .. the Sheikhdom is between me and you” and “tailor make the constitution to be fitting for.. the son of the sheikh, and the son of the official”
Blogger and researcher Atiaf Alwazir wrote a post in her blog in which she demanded that,”No one should be above the law!“
The main issue here is the ease at which corrupt powerful men, tribesman or others, can kill and steal, and get away with it. No one should be above the law, not a powerful tribesman, nor a rich businessman, nor a government official. Sooner or later justice will prevail.
“We will not respond arms for arms, or blood for blood …our weapon is the power of words” said Mohammed Aman on Facebook in response to the murder of his cousin.
So lets spread his words by demanding Justice and equality, after all isn't that what the revolution and the calls for a civic state were all about?
Sheikh Alwadi suggested to settle this the tribal way by offering blood money, but the families of the victims demand justice and rightly so.
Until writing of this post the culprits have not been captured nor presented to justice.