Sunday, March 27, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
New Revolutionary Zaffah
Comedy + Song:
الاضرعي و المعتصمين في الميدان
Yemeni Revolutionary Rap
Monday, March 21, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Yes Yemenis own guns in a land where rule of law is not enforced. Yes there are tribal feuds. Yes the men wear decorative daggers. However, in the last six weeks of protests, these same men have joined the peaceful protesters without their guns and without their daggers. For those who write about Yemen, I wish you would also reflect on how amazing this civic experience really is. Since Yemenis are heavily armed, isn't it remarkable that they abandoned their guns and joined a peaceful movement, even when they were incited numerous times?
Today, hundreds of thousands of people were at the square of change in Sana'a attending the funeral procession of the 52 martyrs who died on Friday. It was a very emotional time as relatives and friends saw their loved ones for the last time. None of these tear-filled relatives took revenge and none were armed. Chants changed from «the people want the end of the regime» to «the people want to prosecute the killer (meaning Saleh)». This is a great example of a peaceful non-violent struggle by a heavily armed society.
When violence occurs against peaceful protesters, it only serves to empower the movement. People who were previously not part of the protests joined today. An old man who could barely walk insisted on joining. His daughter begged him to sit down, he turned to her and shouted: "they were killed for us, the least I can do is walk in their funeral procession."
For Western journalists I hope you put this in perspective when writing on Yemen and citing statistics about gun ownership. Lets remember that on average, every year, 100,000 people are shot or killed by guns in the United States (Source: National Center for Injury Prevention & Control).
Saturday, March 19, 2011
I know that the fight for freedom always has a price. I come from a revolutionary family, where my grandfather was beheaded for calling for change, my father and uncles imprisoned at a young age. I moved back to my beloved country six months ago. My husband and I live in the same house where I was born. We sleep in the same room where my parents used to sleep, and now I'm engaging in a revolution just like my grandfather did in 1948.
Like my grandfather, I am filled with hope for the future. Watching experiences unfold in Tunis and Egypt provided people with the hope that tyranny can come to an end with the will and power of the people. Entering the square in Sanaa, feels like a new Yemen. From one entrance, a large sign greets the people: “Welcome to the first mile of dignity.” On the other side, a sign reads: “Welcome to the land of liberty.” The square fills people with utter hope.
The square is also a land of change, a land of resilliance, and a land of unity. Saleh's 32 years survived by dividing people. In the last month however, different groups came together in one place calling for an end to Saleh's corrupt military family rule. Socialists, Islahis, Houthis, liberals, men, women, children, unemployed, judges, academics etc are all sharing one space, eating together, chewing qat together, and strategizing for the future. Well-known musicians such as Abdulrahman Al-Akhfash are joining, photographers documenting history, wedding ceremonies being held in the square, and activists raising youth's awareness by daily seminars. It is truly a remarkable civic experience, one that costs less than a USAID grant, and takes less time to implement. It is a time of internal strengthening of the population.
Most importantly, the culture of fear is breaking. For years Yemenis have been ruled by fear of speaking out, fear of potential chaos, and fear of independent thought. This fear has been broken. Everyone is talking politics, young and old in every cornor are expressing their opinions openly. It is a great first step for change. Whether this revolution succeeds or not, there is no turning back from this point.
But every revolution comes with a price to pay. As I waited outside the hospital yesterday, I wondered how many more deaths we will we see before change occurs. For me, the attacks were unfortunately expected, and I also expect a lot more if the international community does not strongly condemn the attacks and if the US does not make its aid conditional upon Yemen's respect for human rights.
To honor the martyrs, we need to work hard on protecting this revolution from being hijacked. Despite the sacrifices Yemeni people made in the past revolutions, what eventually materialized was years of a brutal military dictationrship, which is not the change they hoped for. Today, we need to protect this revolution from turning into a military coup, a civil war, or a chaotic mess. This will only work if different groups come together including: youth, JMP members, members of civil society organizations, tribes, and businessmen, to develop a strategic plan for the future and a specific roadmap for change that forsees independent instutitions which protect and guarantee individual rights and freedoms even in the worst case scenario.
Some initiatives have started along this path, and I sincerely hope it continues. I believe that the ruling “chair” can corrupt even the best of humanity. Our work will not end when Saleh leaves, it will be a new challenging beginning. Freedom will depend on the strength, power, and determination of the people to work together for a better Yemen.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Atmosphere in Sanaa University Today
Posted on Fri, Mar. 18, 2011
Hannah Allam and Mohannad Sabry | McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: March 19, 2011 09:09:37 AM
CAIRO — Violence shook the Middle East on Friday after security forces attacked protesters in Yemen and Syria, leaving at least 40 dead in Yemen and three in Syria, as the region's authoritarian regimes turned to deadly force to stop pro-democracy uprisings.
President Barack Obama condemned the violence in Yemen, but his 110-word written statement issued to reporters was milder than the 1,257-word denunciation of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi that he delivered on national television from the White House.
Human rights advocates decried what they said was a double standard in the treatment of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a U.S. ally, and Gadhafi, a longtime villain in the West and a pariah in much of the Arab world and whose armed forces face the prospect of imminent Western attack.
"We're very surprised that the international community is turning away from what's happening in Yemen. They're leaving us in the line of fire of a criminal," said Khaled Ayesh Abdullah, 30, the executive manager of the National Forum for Human Rights, a Yemeni nonprofit in the Hodaida province. "What's happening in Yemen is the definition of a massacre . . . They're using the same tactics and weapons that Gadhafi is using against his people."
Friday's crowds in Yemen, Syria and elsewhere were some of the biggest yet in the two-month long uprising. Video recorded in southern Syria and Yemen's capital, Sanaa, showed similar events: security forces attacking unarmed protesters who'd staged peaceful gatherings to demand the ouster of their unelected leaders.
"I wouldn't even call this a revolution. It's just a peaceful protest, and it was faced with live ammunition and extreme force. What happened today was a massacre," said Abdul Rashid al Faqih, 29, a human rights activist reached by phone in Sanaa.
Yemeni President Saleh declared a state of emergency after his security forces opened fire on tens of thousands of protesters. TV news footage of a main hospital showed overwhelmed doctors moving frantically among their dying patients.
"This is really murder!" an unnamed doctor yells in one video, gesturing to a writhing, bloodied man. "We are calling on the world to come and see!"
"I saw 18 dead bodies, all shot with live ammunition, and I was informed that the injured were taken to five other hospitals around the city because the hospital wasn't big enough to hold all the wounded from today's clashes," Atiaf al Wazir, 31, a Yemeni-American blogger and activist said by telephone from Sanaa.
Arabic-language news reports cited medical sources as saying 40 people were killed, including three children, and scores of others were injured.
"I strongly condemn the violence that has taken place in Yemen today and call on President Saleh to adhere to his public pledge to allow demonstrations to take place peacefully," Obama's statement said. "Those responsible for today's violence must be held accountable. The United States stands for a set of universal rights, including the freedom of expression and assembly, as well as political change that meets the aspirations of the Yemeni people."
In Syria, security forces killed three protesters in the southern city of Deraa, according to the Reuters news agency, which also reported smaller protests in the central city of Homs and the coastal town of Banias. In the old quarter of the Syrian capital, Damascus, crowds briefly chanted opposition slogans inside a historic mosque before being surrounded by security forces.
Amateur videos posted online Friday showed security forces breaking up attempted protests in several Syrian cities. Syria's authoritarian regime has zero tolerance for demonstrations and has jailed prominent dissidents in recent days to block the opposition from starting a revolt.
In a symbolic move that infuriated protesters, Bahrain destroyed the landmark pearl monument in the Manama traffic circle, where demonstrations have erupted for a month.
News reports said soldiers arrived early Friday to demolish the 300-foot monument, which was topped with a massive pearl as a nod to the island-state's pearl-diving heritage. Photos posted online after the destruction showed a pile of debris in place of the monument.
In Sitra, an island south of Manama, thousands of mourners attended the funeral of a Shiite Muslim protester who was killed Tuesday by security forces. At least 12 people have died, and dozens more have been wounded in Bahrain since demonstrations against the ruling al Khalifa family began last month.
The sectarian undertones of Bahrain's crisis threaten to inflame Sunni-Shiite tensions in other Gulf nations. The Bahraini royal family is Sunni in a majority-Shiite country where Shiites have long complained of discrimination.
Saudi Arabia, another Sunni kingdom also wrestling with a seething Shiite population, sent 1,000 troops into Bahrain this week to back up the government. That escalation led thousands of Shiites to demonstrate in solidarity with the Bahraini protesters Friday. Large-scale gatherings were reported in Shiite areas of Iraq and in Iran, where a senior cleric urged the Bahrainis to keep fighting "until death or victory."
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's 86-year-old King Abdullah made a rare televised appearance to offer $93 billion in benefits such as salary bonuses and better health care in hopes of quieting the kingdom's own rumbles of rebellion.
Security forces broke up small groups of Shiite protesters Friday, injuring at least 10 people, according to news reports.
Also Friday, thousands crowded into downtown Cairo's Tahrir Square for a rally ahead of Saturday's referendum on constitutional amendments, the first vote since Hosni Mubarak's regime was toppled and a military-led caretaker government took power.
Opposition activists are divided on the amendments, with some urging "yes" votes to speed the handover of power to a civilian authority, while others are encouraging "no" votes because they feel the old constitution is so flawed that the only solution is to scrap it and draft a new charter.
(Sabry is a special correspondent for McClatchy. Margaret Talev contributed to this article from Washington.)