There is no such formal system in Yemen, leaving the people of Sabool with little more than anger. And with neither Yemeni nor U.S. authorities taking responsibility for the attack, the villagers blame both countries.
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The deaths from the September attack have devastated Sabool, a cluster of 120 brick-and-mud homes that residents say has no electricity, no paved roads, no schools, no hospitals, and no jobs apart from khat farming.
"Seven of the victims were breadwinners. Now we have 50 people in our village with no one to care for them," said Awadh, the local sheikh. "Who will raise them? Who will educate them? Who will take care of their needs?"
Sabooli, the farmer whose parents and only sister were killed, said six of his 10 remaining siblings are still too young to fend for themselves. "When I enter our house, my younger brothers still ask, 'Where are my mother, my father, and my sister?'" he said.
Sabool's residents accuse authorities of refusing to take responsibility for the deaths from the start. When distraught villagers tried to bring the dead to the city morgue in Radda, Republican Guard troops blocked their entry for two hours. Then the morgue refused the bodies. The Sabool villagers spent the night on the streets of Radda, fending off stray dogs from the corpses spread out on the beds of pickup trucks. The next day, Radda shopkeepers joined the Sabool residents in blocking the main street in Radda and threatening to bring the bodies to President Hadi's doorstep in Sanaa.
Within hours, Sheikh Sinan Garoon, the deputy governor of al-Bayda, arrived to appease the Sabool residents the tribal way, with 95 Kalashnikovs and 15 million Yemeni rials -- about $70,000 -- in burial money. He also promised further compensation, villagers said.
"We denounce what happened," a video obtained by Human Rights Watch showed Garoon telling the angry demonstrators. "We will give you the guns.… If you demand blood money, it will be given to you."
From Sanaa, Hadi announced he would form a special committee to investigate the attack. But as of late December the panel was not in place, and talks on compensation beyond the initial $70,000 had stalled. "They were toying with us," said Awadh.
"We've had four meetings with Sheikh Garoon, but he said that the government is busy nowadays with more important issues," Sabooli said. "It's as if we live in a jungle and the attack was on wild animals -- no one cares. Both the Yemeni government and the American government killed my family and my villagers. Both of them should be brought to justice."