Sailing to Yemen with human traffickers

(GALLO/GETTY)

Freelance journalist Glen Johnson recently traveled on a human smuggling boat from Djibouti to Yemen, where he was arrested and imprisoned for two weeks. The following is an excerpt from his report on the voyage for Al Jazeera:

I waited for an hour while people filed onto the boats, departures of each boat were staggered by around 15 minutes. Gradually the Affar left and one of the smugglers approached and signalled to me. While dozens of crabs scuttled across the sand, I waded out waist deep and clambered into the boat’s bow. Nearly 50 people were crammed into the boat, which was essentially a fishing dhow. The passengers were squeezed one next to the other as the boat set-off.

A young man from Ethiopia – his forehead covered in a line of 10 faded, blue tattoos depicting the cross – said there was no work in Ethiopia; in Saudi Arabia he would have everything, like his friend in Riyadh, the capital.

“Ethiopia is a very big country. I have no job and no monies. I calling to my friend and he says about his big house and big car. I say I must go, go, go.”

He had little money, but was carrying a block of hasheesh, to sell in Saudi Arabia. Other passengers carried bottles of vodka, to sell to Yemeni bootleggers in order to fund the rest of their trip to Saudi. Those who could not afford to pay for a vehicle would attempt the journey on foot.

Continue reading “Sailing to Yemen with human traffickers”

The evolution of Arab revolutions

The Arab Spring is in full bloom. Peaceful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt sparked a democratic tide that has swept across the region.

In Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, it is now a tale of two protests, with the situation deteriorating into widespread violence and outright war.

It seems some regimes will stop at nothing to resist change. So with no unified leadership or clear agenda, and with domestic complications in each and every country, is this truly a revolution? And if this is an Awakening — what path will it follow — that of Turkey? Of Iran? Or rather a third way, an Arab way. Empire finds out.

Continue reading “The evolution of Arab revolutions”

Deadly crackdown in Yemen

Yemeni security forces have opened fire at a protest in the capital Sanaa, killing at least 30 people.

It is the highest death toll in a single day after weeks of demonstrations calling for Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president, to stand down.

Witnesses say armed men opened fire from nearby buildings as protesters gathered in Sanaa’s University Square after Friday prayers

Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher reports.