Yemenity2010's Blog

Aftermath of Assassination in Taiz

Posted in Blog Entry in English by yemenity2010 on 27/03/2012

There seems to have been a series of reactions in Taiz and around the world since what happened a little more than a week ago, when a teacher and assistant director of a International Training & Development Center was shot to death while driving to work. Including protests by people in the city, not least young people, demanding that the killers be brought to justice. Some public reactions can be found on YouTube and have also been reported by Wall Street Journal, other news outlets and blogs like The Wadi or Freedomnjusticeseeker. Last Tuesday hundreds of people are reported to have marched through the city, condemning the murder.

Some of them can be seen in this YouTube clip where ”Sons of Taiz” give their condolences to the family of Joel Shrum.

– He came all the way from America, with nothing but good intentions, to help and teach the people of Taiz. He was working for a non-profit organization, not for the US Embassy or the US Army. He was there when we needed help, says one former student at ITDC (formerly known as the Swedish Training Centre).

Here’s a summary from American Christian news outlet CBN Online. And according to the likewise American blog Forum of the Nation, an activist named Radwan al-Qadri ”several lawyers and protesters met with the Taiz police chief to demand an investigation.”

There is also a statement from representative Joseph R. Pitts in what appears to be the United States congress, emhasizing that Joel Shrum was not in Yemen to proselytize but to serve the people, and also that the centre is staffed by both Christians and Muslims.

– The people of Yemen are appalled by this violence, said congressman Pitts.

For me personally it’s still sad to think of this happening to someone I met a couple of times, although I didn’t get to know him that well. This was also a place where I spent one year working, meeting a lot of good people, having a lot of interesting discussions with students and colleagues, and learning a great deal about a culture I previously really knew precious little about.  Joel was part of the new managerial team gradually taking over the running of the institute during the last months I spent there in the fall of 2010. What will happen now with the education programs and other activities at ITDC seems uncertain at the moment.

In the wake of the tragic events, the governor of Taiz, Hamoud Khaled Al-Sufi, has expressed outrage, saying:

– Shrum loved Yemenis, and his murder is an insult in the face of humanity, according to the Yemen Times.

The local Security Committee has also introduced a new security plan, including the banning of carrying weapons in the central parts of the city and regulating the movements of motorbikes (which are very common in the city, and were also used by the assassins in this case). Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the killing, but no one has yet been arrested for it.

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