Yemeni artist paints arms message for France with war mural

The Last Dance of the Dead mural in Paris denounces France’s weapons sales to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

Yemen''s street artist Murad Subay poses after unveiling a street painting to denounce the conflict in his country, in Paris
Yemen's street artist Murad Subay poses after unveiling a street painting to denounce the bloody conflict [Christian Hartmann/Reuters]

Three dangling bodies painted against a blood-red background shocked passersby in central Paris on Tuesday after a Yemeni artist unveiled a mural to denounce French arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in his homeland.

The three-metre (10 feet) high mural, titled Last Dance of the Dead, was created by Murad Subay.

He started painting when the conflict in his country broke out in 2014 to raise awareness on arbitrary arrests before taking his brush to the bombed-out rubble in the capital Sanaa.

“This is inspired from real stories of people who died in the war and I am trying to convey how war has affected the people,” said Subay, who fled to France 18 months ago and is part of the Artist Protection Fund (APF), which provides relief and safe havens to artists at risk.

France is among the world’s leading arms exporters with its sales to Saudi Arabia last year rising 50 percent despite the government calling for an end to the conflict in Yemen.

Paris says its weapons sales are governed by strict procedures in line with international treaties.

President Emmanuel Macron claimed for the first time in May he had received guarantees from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that French weapons were not used against civilians.

“We’re seeing a change in the public language, but what we’ve been asking for over the last two years is an end to arms sales,” said Aymeric Elluin, advocacy officer at Amnesty International France.

The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a database that tracks violence in Yemen, said in October about 100,000 people have died since 2015 in the war. 

Source: Reuters