Sana’a, May, 22 — Unlike this time of the year, the National Day of Unification was celebrated by the state, accompanied by military parades and fireworks displays. However, this year, anti-government protesters across the country are staging celebrations of their own.
Protesters in the capital Sana’a say that they want to prove to the world that Saleh’s threats about a divided Yemen don’t hold water. Protest leaders told the Yemen Times that nationwide unity celebrations are meant to show Saleh and the world that the people care about keeping the country unified and that the fall of the Saleh regime will only serve to further solidify North and South Yemen’s unity of purpose.
Over 3500 soldiers from the defected First Armored Brigade participated in a parade and a show of force in Sana’a, sending a message to loyalist military forces that they should stand with the people as well. According to the secretary general of the soldier’s coalition, all soldiers should defect from the regime if they are to uphold their duties as defenders of the Yemeni people and protectors of the state.
“Around 3500 soldiers participated in this symbolic event,” said Major Hamdan Fars, Secretary-General of the soldier’s coalition in “Change Square” in Sana’a. “the objective of this show is to deliver a message to our brothers in Yemen’s military that have not joined the protest yet, we want to motivate them to defect and join the people,” he added.
Although some groups of the southern movement held an event yesterday in Aden calling for secession, many others participated in today’s celebrations of unification across the former territory of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, according to Mohammed Joma’n, an anti-government protester living in Aden.
Joma’n confirmed that even though the southern Movement is against unification, they do not oppose protesters celebrating the occasion.
Protesters in the capital believe that the dissolution of the union is a threat that president Saleh is using to garner more support.”Separation is a lie that the regime promotes,” said Major Fars. “There will not be any separation.”
Civilians also participated in the celebrations with shows of their own.
Waleed Al-Amary, one of the celebration’s coordinators, said that the program will be informative and supportive. “We have different shows that reflect many different cultures like a Tuhami show, Maribi show and so” said Al-Amary.
“The aim is to show the world that the Yemeni people are unified, the people want to bring down the regime and we have no fear that our union will be negatively affected by our revolution. In fact, national unity will be strengthened by it.” he added.
Al-Amari also confirmed that the entrances of celebrations and protest camps are protected in case of attacks by government loyalists or security forces.
The White House released a statement on Sunday in support of Yemen’s unity.
“The United States will continue to support the Yemeni people as you work toward a unified, stable, democratic, and prosperous Yemen. We continue to call for a peaceful transition of power so that the citizens of Yemen may one day realize your aspirations.” said Hilary Clinton in a press release on 21 May.