Mafraj Radio Episode 10: Remembering al-Karamah, Panel Discussion

March 18, 2014

On this special episode, we mark the third anniversary of the day known as Jum‘at al-Karamah, or the Friday of Dignity, on which regime forces massacred unarmed protesters in San‘a’s Change Square. The massacre, which is powerfully documented in the Oscar-nominated film Karama Has No Walls, became a turning point in the Yemeni Revolution of 2011.

We’re screening films about the Revolution as part of our inaugural International Film & Arts Festival. At last weekend’s Festival event in Washington, DC, we invited a panel of expert special guests to join us for a discussion of the films, the Revolution, and its aftermath. This episode of the podcast features excerpts from that fantastic discussion panel.

About our guests:

Amal Basha is a prominent human rights activist, and the head of the Sisters’ Arab Forum. She was a delegate to Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference, and served as spokesperson for the NDC’s technical committee. She is also the mother of activist-filmmaker Ammar Basha, whose documentary series Days in the Heart of the Revolution is featured in our Festival, and the aunt of Mohammed Albasha, below.


Mohammed Albasha is the spokesperson for the Yemeni embassy in Washington. He is one of the most visible–and controversial–public faces of the Yemeni state.


Sama’a al-Hamdani is a political analyst and researcher, based in Washington, DC. She writes one of the most respected blogs on Yemeni affairs, and tweets at @Yemeniaty.


Laura Kasinof is a freelance journalist, writer and researcher whose work focuses on the Middle East. She was the Yemen correspondent for the New York Times during the anti-government protests of 2011, as part of the Arab spring. Laura’s first book, Don’t be Afraid of the Bullets, about her experience in Yemen, is to be published in Fall 2014 by Arcade. She tweets at @kasinof.


Nabilah al-Zubair is a prominent Yemeni activist, and served as a delegate to the National Dialogue Conference/


Mafraj Radio Episode 9: Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, human rights issues, and al-Mahrah’s experiment in democracy

February 24, 2014

On this episode we discuss Yemen’s dire humanitarian crisis with UNOCHA’s Trond Jensen. We also get a rundown of key human rights issues from Belkis Wille, Yemen researcher for Human Rights Watch, and learn about an exciting experiment in local democracy taking place in al-Mahrah, Yemen’s easternmost governorate.

UPDATE: The second segment of this episode, my interview with Belkis Wille of Human Rights Watch, includes a short discussion on the international community’s repeated threats of sanctions against spoilers in Yemen. A few days after the episode aired, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution setting up a sanctions committee. Read about that here.

UNOCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) is responsible for coordinating international responses to humanitarian crises around the world. In Yemen, the office–headed by Trond Jensen–works to coordinate the efforts of more than 100 local and international NGOs to address Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. Yemenis are suffering from food insecurity, lack of access to water, and severe poverty. In addition, several hundred thousand Yemenis have been displaced from their homes by conflict in the past decade. Our interview with Trond Jensen looks at the scope of the crisis, and challenges facing OCHA as it works to respond. You can find OCHA’s website for Yemen here, with links to the recently-released Humanitarian Response Plan for 2014.


A few of the NGOs working in Yemen are listed below. While the international community will almost certainly fail to fully fund this year’s Humanitarian Response Plan, you can do your part by donating to these organizations.


Mafraj Radio Episode 8: Revisiting al-Hirak, and meeting the future of Yemeni music

November 11, 2013

On this episode we talk with journalist Iona Craig about the complex reality of the Southern Movement, and we meet Ahmed Alshaiba, a young Yemeni ‘oud player who wants to change the future of Yemeni music.


Mafraj Radio Episode 7: Inside Guantanamo, and Remembering Ibrahim

September 25, 2013

On this episode, we speak to attorney David Remes, who represents a number of Yemenis imprisoned at the US military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, about his clients and the larger political context surrounding Guantanamo. We also remember Ibrahim Mothana, a young Yemeni activist who continues to inspire his colleagues in Yemen and people around the world.


Mafraj Radio Episode 6: US Intelligence, Addressing the Water Crisis, and Celebrating Ramadan

August 18, 2013

On this episode, we get an inside look at the US intelligence system with journalist and former intelligence analyst Joshua Foust, we discuss Yemen’s water crisis with UNDP advisor Walid ‘Ali, and we learn about Ramadan traditions from the creator of Yemen Kitchen, Wigdan al-Guneid.


Mafraj Radio Episode 5: NDC update & living in the dark

June 26, 2013

On this episode, we get an update on the progress of the National Dialogue Conference from NDC youth delegate Baraa Shiban and analyst Fernando Carvajal, and we talk with journalist Iona Craig about Yemen’s electricity crisis. Our interview with Baraa also touches on the issue of the continued illegal detention of revolutionary activists.


Mafraj Radio Episode 4: The Foreign Press Corps

May 26, 2013

This episode features highlights from a conversation with journalists Jeb Boone (Global Post, CSM), Tom Finn (The Yemen Times, The Guardian), and Laura Kasinof (The New York Times), about their experiences in Yemen–which include covering the 2011 uprising–and their observations on contemporary journalism.


Interview with Farea al-Muslimi

April 23, 2013

Episode 3 featured an excerpt from an interview we recorded last month with writer and activist Farea al-Muslimi. Because the interview contained much more valuable material than we could fit into a single segment, we decided to post the full interview here. We start off with Farea’s reflections on recent visits to the embattled southern province of Abyan. After that, we discuss Farea’s personal connection to the United States, and his views on US policy toward Yemen.


Mafraj Radio Episode 3

April 20, 2013

In this episode we take our first look at the efforts of the international community in Yemen, a subject we’ll come back to in several future episodes. The first segment features an interview with the UK’s ambassador to Yemen, Mr. Nicholas Hopton, who summarizes for us his government’s role in the country’s affairs. This is followed by a chat with Ms. Kate Nevens of Saferworld, who talks about the non-governmental side of things. The episode wraps up with an excerpt from an interview with Yemeni writer and activist Farea al-Muslimi, who shares a personal perspective on US-Yemeni relations.


Mafraj Radio Episode 2

April 2, 2013

In the second episode of Mafraj Radio, we take a look back at the Youth Revolution of 2011 with Ibrahim Mothana, and go inside the long-awaited National Dialogue Conference with a member of the Youth delegation, Baraa Shiban. We also get an update on the situation in ‘Aden from activist ‘Alaa Isam.