100+ Days of the Yemeni Revolution

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This first report and the picture come from Amel Ahmed, a freelance journalist on the ground in Sana’a.  She spoke with officers and activists about events on the night of June 1st.  Below is a list of conflict zones, as best as she can determine:

  • Soldiers belonging to Ali Mohsen’s 1st Armored Division confirmed that Saleh’s security forces along with thugs attempted to enter the Square from the north side (area known as Sawad Hanash) but were repelled back by Mohsen’s soldiers. This is the first time they actually made an attempt at entering the square, and I was told they most likely would try again tonight.
  • The area by Commerce Court (20th street), which is south of the Square, had snipers stationed on buildings and baltajia, or paid thugs, walking the streets.  Many people believe these thugs are actually officers dressed in civilian clothes. They were intimidating people going in and out of the Square. But no conflict.
  • There was conflict in Hasaba, as there is every night between Ahmar’s men and security forces.
  • On al-Ghada Street, about half a kilometer from Change Square and to the west, thugs and security forces were gathered. Security forces were shooting mortar shells from this area (al-Ghada) to an area called Jawlat Saba, which is filled with Ahmar fighters.
  • According to reports, Sheikh Mohamed Abdullah al-Qadhi, who is  a member of Parliament and supports the opposition, had his home attacked in al-Asbuhi last night. He’s related to the President. Al-Asbuhi is located about 7 kilometers from the Square (about 15-20 minutes by car without traffic), west of Sana’a.

Mona Mohammed, a young Yemeni living in Sana’a, wrote the following piece on the hundredth day of the revolution. That was the day President Saleh was supposed to sign the GCC agreement and transition from power, but the deal fell through at the last minute. Since then violence has broken out between tribes and Saleh forces, but Mona says the protestors remain peaceful.

100 Days of the Yemeni Revolution
by Mona Mohammed

Mona is a graduate of the United World College (UWC) in Hong Kong and recently took part in a Women Leadership Program funded by the US State Department. She posts regularly in the Facebook group Yemen Voices.

Exactly one year ago, I was in Li Po Chun UWC of Hong Kong. On movie night, we watched Hotel Rwanda. It is a movie that talks about the civil war in Rwanda during 1994. It was very good at depicting all the horrific scenes of murder, more appropriately referred to as mass murder. The movie brought me to tears at many scenes, every scene for a different reason. One of the scenes showed the preparation for the massacres and importing the weapons. This scene struck me the most, because it created a strong link to what is happening in Yemen. Yemen at the time was going through a war in the north, and fighting against a secessionist movement in the south. Yet the regime was not reluctant to repress every call for reform. Back then, I thought that  a civil war scenario was very possible. Yemen needs no weapons to be imported as the number of weapons in Yemen is triple the number of the population.

Today, however, I am amazed by the protestors, the tribes men, the Houthis all of whom have left their weapons behind and with bare chests fight against the regime. Today, I look at more than a 100 days of peaceful struggle that have only been faced with all kinds of brutal repression. The protestors were killed, imprisoned, bodies of dead protestors were kidnapped, and the lucky injured protestors were denied entrance to public hospitals, and the less lucky, were kidnapped from the public hospitals and beaten harshly. All that and the whole world is watching. The Gulf initiative that is supposed to be signed today by the president gives him immunity against the wishes of many Yemenis, yet it provides the only solution so far. Yet, the question that poses itself strongly right now is what is next. The Yemeni people are patient, but I am not sure for how long will they stay be patient while they are being killed.

One of the excuses that have hindered the revolution strongly is what comes after the revolution. Many were afraid of the rise of fundamentalist groups, yet looking at the program of the Joint Meeting Parties; let me assure you, that will not be possible. The reforms that will be introduced include mainly three essential actions: firstly, a proportional representation system, second, a parliamentary system and last but not least federalization, all of which ensure that power is not concentrated in the hands of one person.  The proportional representation system ensures that no one person is elected due to their tribal descents but rather based on their agendas. It also ensures that every vote is counted.  As such, it is usually harder for one party to get a majority, and a coalition is more likely to be needed. This leads to the second change we will witness, a parliamentary system. The parliamentary system gives the parliament the right to appoint and dissolve the government, this will force the coalition of parties to abandon fundamentalist ideas and come to a common ground on many issues. With the variation we have in Yemen, this will give parties as varied as the Islah and the Socialist parties the chance to be active and tamed by one another. Finally, comes federalization that is a solution that will pacify the secessionist movements in both the south and the north as they will be able to govern themselves. This will give the country a chance to prosper as they will be more conscious to the needs of their own regions.

I couldn’t agree more with Kofi Annan when he said in his interview with the Financial Times “It takes lots of energy, persistence, for them [the youth] to stick with it. And not only stick with it, but they need resources, they need determined leadership to be able to go all the way, before the revolution is hijacked by the organized who may not necessarily share their dreams.” The need for monitoring and accountancy in the new period in the Yemeni history can’t be denied.  There are many ways things can go wrong, yet there are many opportunities ahead of Yemen, and the help of the international community will be needed.

I am very hopeful as I see that the activists understand that their role doesn’t stop with the transfer of power, it only starts then. I’m also optimistic to see that the youth don’t consider the GCC initiative the end of the revolution, and understand how more action is needed right now more than ever.  As this revolution seems to come to an end, let us stop for a moment to admire how it has changed many and made the Yemeni people leave their weapons behind. the Yemenis now has practiced their right to express their opinions, their right to organize themselves and their right to ask for change and as they revolt against a dictator they will also ensure that they don’t replace him with another. Yemeni’s have learnt a lot from this revolution, and it is time for the international community to understand the importance of the power of the people.

Tiaz Prostest:
On Sunday May 29, government forces in Tiaz reportedly killed at least 50 protestors as they staged peaceful sit-in at “Freedom Square.”  Some of these demonstrators were burned alive in their tents. Pictures and video have started to surface. This video shows the victims, and more pictures can be seen here. WARNING: very graphic material. 

Shahd’s Death:
This comes from Yemen Rights Monitor:

“The clashes between Saleh’s forces and Al-Ahmar troops that were happening the past couple of days in Hasaba resulted in the deaths of many people.

Shad was reported to be killed by Saleh’s forces attacks on Sadeq Ahmar’s men in the area.  An only child in her family, she was five years old.”

 

 

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