Journey into the Unknown
With the onset of dawn, the fishermen go to the port to prepare for a new fishing trip, in search of livelihood to feed their families, on a journey that they realize is fraught with dangers, in which they may go and not return.
Since the start of the war on Yemen, in March 2015, the suffering of fishermen has doubled, as 100,000 fishermen have lost their source of income because the sea has been turned into a battlefield by the US-Saudi aggression.
With the setting of the sun and darkness falling on the sea and the city, young boys remain waiting on the beach for their parents, worried that they may fall victim to the fire of angry battleships and planes at sea. Fishermen return with their livelihood to the ports to be sold to the buyers in the market.
Murder, Starvation Lurk in the Fishermen
With every trip there are stories of death lurking in the poor fishermen, after the causes of killing and arrest multiplied, which if not at the hands of the coalition forces, may happen at the hands of the Eritrean forces, or other naval forces of the countries bordering the Red Sea, all of which have come to see Yemen's fishermen as an easy target.
The fishermen say that “the US-Saudi warplanes and battleships throw lava of death at them without any warning. Although the fishermen raise white flags confirming that they are civilians, warships insist on bombing them.”
The coalition’s bombing of the fishermen’s boats affected thousands of them, and many stopped of fishing because they lost their boats and were unable to got new ones to continue fishing. Some of them stopped for fear of bombing by the coalition’s warplanes or warships or being arrested.
During the past three weeks, stories of fishermen being arrested by the US-Saudi forces have increased. Fishermen are subjected to detention and torture on justifications related to “arms smuggling”, although no fishing boats carrying any kind of weapons have been seized since the start of the war in March 2015.
Fishermen say that they are now avoiding going to distant trips to places where fish are available, for fear of exposure to coalition forces' fire. They now prefer to go to nearby places that are no more than 30 miles away, which is a small distance compared to the trips they used to take before the war, which were up to 100 miles in places where fish were abundant.
The Only Option
A 45-year-old fisherman, who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of being attacked by the aggression forces, says that he chose to risk his life in order to break the hunger of his family consisting of three boys, two girls and his wife.
This fisherman has no other options to support his family than the meager wages he gets from fishing, instead of succumbing to hunger, given the lack of any other opportunities for work due to the war and the blockade that the country is exposed to.
In his speech, he recalled one of the aggression crimes that he witnessed during one of his fishing trips, which led to the death of a number of his fellow fishermen before his eyes, when a coalition warplane fired a barrage of bullets and missiles at the fishermen's boats. He miraculously survived, because the fishing boat he was in was a few meters away from the boats that were bombed.
This fisherman stopped going to the sea for more than six months after this horrific crime, of which he says that “the memories of this incident kill me every day from the impact of the shock I witnessed as my companions were being killed before my eyes, while I heard their cries in my ear.”
His suffering increased even more when he stopped fishing, as his attempts to search for another job to support his family were unsuccessful. Debts multiplied, prompting him to return to fishing in a journey of struggle with poverty. He concluded by saying, "I expect at any moment that I will die in the sea like my friends who were killed without any guilt. Their only fault is that they are looking for their meager livelihood."
Poor Dad's Promises
On a bright morning in August 2018, the child Anas bid farewell to his father, who was heading to the sea in search of livelihood. A while ago, Anas was urging his father to buy him a small toy car. At the door, Anas carried his wish and went to his father and said, “Buy me a small car to play with.” With the heart of a father who realizes that his child's request is simple, he replied: “If I catch a lot of fish, I will buy you the game.”
Anas waited impatiently for his father. The child did not know that his father had been killed in a coalition air strike that targeted a fishermen's boat off the coast of Hodeidah. He did not know the reason for his mother's continuous crying or what death was.
After four days of the pain of the mother and the longing of the child, the father arrived dead, charred, only here Anas realized that something out of the ordinary had happened. His father, who left the house with the power of a fisherman defying the waves, is now a burnt corpse without features or details from that picture in which he left. The father passed away, and Anas's wish to get a toy was left with him.
Anas tells his story at the age of 12. We felt his agony, his sadness, the moments of remembering the promise of the tool and the date of destiny. He could not control himself, so he started crying fervently. We could not prevent the showers of tears that flowed from his eyes. After a while, we succeeded in that, but if we wish to erase that scene from his memory, we will fail, as the battleships failed in the test of humanity.
Yemen's fishermen wave white rags, hoping that the killing machines lurking in the sea will realize that they are just civilian fishermen, but the coalition’s battleships and planes show indifference to following any standards imposed by the rules of international law to take into account the protection of civilians. For the US-Saudi aggression, they are just Yemeni citizens who do not deserve anyone to care about them.
Sea Waters Stained with Blood of Yemen’s Fishermen
The blood of Yemen’s fishermen mixes with the sea water, witnessing one of the worst periods in history of human rights violations.
The investigations of the team of international and regional experts, which was formed by a council to investigate human rights violations, proved that “the coalition committed war crimes against civilians in Yemen.” However, the team’s mission was suspended under Saudi pressure on the Human Rights Council last July.
Source: YPA, translated by Almasirah English website#Yemen #Fishermen #US-Saudi Aggression 22-12-18
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