SANA’A, May 1st — Pro-democracy protesters demonstrating in Change Squares across Yemen have promised to escalate the revolution so as to put an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime by the end of this month. However, as escalation takes place, protesters are facing ever more violent opposition from the government’s security forces.
The plans of action that protesters talk about today are not all that different from what was being discussed two weeks ago: escalating the civil disobedience campaign, organizing more marches and potentially moving on the Presidential Palace.
One Facebook group called “From Here Change Will Start” has started advocating vigorously for a march on the Presidential Palace, no matter what the potential loss.
The group’s plan suggests that 300,000 protesters in Sana’a march on the palace from three different sides. The fourth side would be kept clear as an emergency exit, as clashes with pro-government “thugs” are to be expected.
Meanwhile, a further 100,000 protesters would break into the Yemeni state television building, so as to “…provide the revolution’s media crew with a safe atmosphere for live broadcasts from a Yemeni channel that belongs to the people.”
Although the protesters have always remained committed to the principles of peaceful revolution, this plan would provide for 50,000 pro-democracy snipers whose task would be to protect the demonstrators from pro-government thugs.
Another 30,000 protesters would be assigned to the capturing of hospitals and ambulances, so as to secure medical support for all those who are injured. This group would also seize restaurants, so as to provide protesters with food and water.
Many protesters in Sana’a are supportive of such plans, believing that the revolution cannot viably continue as it is right now.
“Eventually, we will have to march,” said one protester at Sana’a University’s Change Square. “This will lead to one of two scenarios: either the situation will explode and he [President Saleh] will react like Qaddafi, or we will take over the palace.”
Huda Al-Atas is an activist who agrees that a march on the Presidential Palace is necessary, but that now is not an appropriate time.
“Now, I think there is a greater need for more people to join the square. There are other steps that we must take before jumping to a march,” said Al-Atas.
Thus far, Aden is the city that has been most successful in applying the principles of civil disobedience. Every Saturday and Wednesday, some 80 percent of the city shuts down in protest against the Saleh regime. Moreover, protesters recently agreed to create a third day of civil disobedience in the week.
On Saturday, clashes were reported in Al-Mansoura district between military and pro-democracy protesters. At least six demonstrators were shot to death.
“The military insists upon an end to all civil disobedience. This is why there is an increase in violence on the days that disobedience takes place. On Saturday, they left six dead. Last Wednesday, one was killed,” said Abdurrahman Aness, a journalist and political activist based in Aden.
Although it is quiet today, the camp in Al-Mansoura district witnessed one of its most brutal assaults yesterday. The camp is usually home to approximately 8,000 protesters, but fortunately there were only 1,500-some present at the time of the attack.
The assault damaged residential homes and private vehicles. Because of this, Aness told the Yemen Times that support for civil disobedience might decrease – contrary to what is being planned.
Although some violence was reported at a state police station, Aness confirmed that Aden’s peaceful protesters resolutely deny any relationship with the armed assailants.
Waleed Al-Amary, a political officer of the revolution at Sana’a University’s Change Square, told the Yemen Times that the attacks in Aden have forced a revision of escalation plans.
“One thing that we might do to escalate things is to ask some of the protesters in Taiz to join the Change Square in Sana’a, so that we appear more unified and strong,” said Al-Amary.
Al-Amary, who previously told the Yemen Times that one of the main escalation plans is to target vital ministries, also said that the protesters might block ministerial buildings for a certain number of hours every day, so as to prevent anyone from getting in or out. This would temporarily paralyze state machinery.
According to Al-Amary, the youth at Change Square are confident regarding their newest escalation plans. However, they are unable to announce their initiatives to the public at this moment, as any revelation would allow the government to better mobilize and protect itself.