Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 17 October 2019

Family of UAE’s first martyr honoured to have celebration on date of his death

When 2,000 Iranian soldiers invaded the Tunb islands, they demanded that Salem Suhail bin Khamis Al Dhahmani lower the UAE flag. The 20-year-old was shot for defying their orders.
Aisha, the niece of UAE's first martyr Salem Suhail bin Khamis Al Dahmani, holds a biography publication about her martyred uncle. Reem Mohammed / The National
Aisha, the niece of UAE's first martyr Salem Suhail bin Khamis Al Dahmani, holds a biography publication about her martyred uncle. Reem Mohammed / The National

RAS AL KHAIMAH // Relatives of the UAE’s first martyr, Salem Suhail bin Khamis Al Dahmani, say they are overjoyed at the Government’s decision to commemorate his death.

Salem, a police officer, was killed on November 29, 1971 during the attack by Iran on the Tunb islands, owned by Ras Al Khaimah.

When a force of 2,000 Iranian soldiers invaded the islands, they demanded Salem lower the flag from the police station where he was stationed.

The 20-year-old defied their orders and was shot for his bravery.

His older brother, Harib Al Dahmani, who is now in his late 60s, can only vaguely recall the day his family heard about the incident.

The praise from the nation for his brother’s sacrifice, however, remains a firm memory.

“I remember the Iran coup on the islands. I wasn’t young but I remember people talking about what had happened,” says Harib. “His sacrifice was talked about over the entire nation and to this day it is remembered. The Emirati people ... know he was on a mission and his defiance spoke of pride and honour.”

However, he also wants people to remember his brother’s personality. “People know his story but I want them to know of his good deeds and morals,” says Harib. “I loved his personality and he was a good brother, he treated me very well. I remember his stories, and how our relationship grew with chats and jokes, we were like one.”

Harib’s daughter, Aisha, 32, says even though she was born after her uncle’s death, she knew of his story from news articles and people’s conversations.

“People speak highly of him, they are very proud. They want to follow in his footsteps,” she says.

At first, the news of Salem’s death came as a shock, especially as there was no official announcement.

“Initially, they were sad of course. Later, Ras Al Khaimah Police sent a telegram confirming his death, as we were told. And the family was then proud,” Aisha says.

“While growing up, my father and uncles would talk about it. We heard the stories from other family members, and they mostly spoke of his personality, what he was like as a child. My father says he was always joking, very caring and was known for his nobility.”

She says it is an honour to have Commemoration Day celebrated on the day of her uncle’s death.

The family have even produced a pamphlet with information on the country’s first martyr.

“We gathered the information from our family and news articles. We aim to hand it to anyone we meet. The reason is to make people aware about who the martyr is and the day’s significance,” she says.

aalkhoori@thenational.ae

Updated: November 28, 2015 04:00 AM

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