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7 Good News Stories From Yemen You Probably Haven't Heard

Amidst all the sad and violent news coming out of Yemen, the assassinations, bomb explosions, US drone strikes and kidnappings, we managed to dig out a few news items that you might have missed:

1. After two years behind bars and no charge against them, some of Yemen's revolution youth were released, although a few still remain in prison until this day.

Yemen's Revolution's Youth released in front of Sanaa's central prison

Yemen's Revolution's Youth released in front of Sanaa's central prison

2. Journalist Abdulillah Hayder Shaye who had been jailed for almost three years, for exposing a US missile attack on the remote mountain village of Al-Ma'jallah, which killed 41 people, was released and received the Alkaramah Human Rights defenders Award but was not able to attend the ceremony in Geneva to receive the award in person because he is under house arrest and not allowed to leave the country.

Journalist Iona Craig and investigative journalist and author of “Drone Wars” Jeremy Scahill received the award on his behalf.

3. The Yemeni film “Karamah Has No Walls” documenting the bloody events of March 18, 2011, in Yemen's revolution directed by Yemeni/Scottish film director Sara Ishaq was shortlisted for an Oscar nomination. Karamah in Arabic means Dignity.

Here is the film:

Sarah Ishaq also directed the documentary film “The Mulberry House,” which is being screened in international film festivals across the world.

4. Launched successfully last year, TedxSanaa held another event this year under the theme “Actions Matter” which was just as successful and TedxAden was launched on Dec 11, 2013. A lot of effort and great organization was put into it, beginning with the creative flash mob announcing it, to the inspiring panel of speakers and variety of subjects it included.

5. Kidnapped Dutch couple, journalist Judith Spiegel and her partner Boudewijn Berendsen, were finally and safely released after six months in captivity. They were unharmed and said they received good treatment from their abductors. Judith said on her first Facebook post after her release:

Yes yes yes we are free! We are very fine. We will contact you all soon, but for now: thank you so so so much for all the support. You cannot believe how fantastic that has been and still is for our families and us. We love you and we still love Yemen

Dutch journalist Judith Spiegel and her partner Boudewijn Berendsen

Dutch journalist Judith Spiegel and her partner Boudewijn Berendsen

A graffiti by Yemeni artists Murad Subay in solidarity with Judith during her kidnap

A graffiti by Yemeni artists Murad Subay in solidarity with Judith during her kidnapping

6. On December 15, Yemen's parliament passed a law banning drone strikes. The country has been subjected to continuous US drone strikes for years and recently a drone strike killed 17 civilians in a wedding convoy in Yemen. Yes, it sounds like good news, but it was just a symbolic gesture since Yemen's lawmakers have limited powers, especially when the country's own president endorsed the drones and there are no signs that they would stop anytime soon.

7. A road map was finally reached for resolving the “southern” issue. Some autonomy was granted to the Southern regions in Yemen in the face of the secessionist movement which had been calling for an end to the unity between North and South Yemen, which took place in 1990. A committee formed by President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi will choose between forming two regions in the south and four in the north, or two large entities, a northern and southern one.

It is too soon to determine whether this last bit of news is good or bad, but we are keeping it with the positive spirit of the post and hoping to hear more good news from Yemen in the next year!

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