In the center of a march led by the independent youth from their stage in front of the old university, one can always find a 31-year-old protester holding a microphone and shouting chants against the US and Saudi Arabian governments, both of whom try to paint “the Yemeni revolution as a political crisis.”He comes from a family that gave two of its sons to serve the revolution, one in Change Square in Sana’a, and the other in Horiya Square in Taiz. Ameen Dabwan in was born in Shara’ab, Al-Rona in Taiz governorate. He graduated from the faculty of education and majored in chemistry. Before the revolution started in February, he was continuing his studies and preparing for a master’s degree from Sana’a University. He is head of a small family consisting of him, his wife, a son and a daughter.Dabwan, who comes from a poor social class, had to struggle to reach his goal of getting his master’s degree while also feeding his family. In a country that considers those holding a masters degree among the elite, Dabwan works a second job all night in a humble cafeteria after studying in the morning and then teaching school in the afternoon.
Dabwan is one of the people responsible for the independent youth stage and always gives a speech to urging them to never give up their revolution regardless of any pressure by other sides, the state or the Joint Meeting Parties.
“We were suffering, everything in our lives were just small parts of the great things they could be. Whenever the head of the university gives a lecture he compliments the president for no reason,” said Dabwan.
Dabwan was among those who sparked the revolution. He believed in it then and still believes in it with the same strength.
“I had faith in the revolution when I first saw the people go against injustice in the first few demonstrations, “ he said.
Although he spends his whole day in the square, Dabwan did not originally have a tent as his house is near the protest area. Then, when he and his friends started a coalition of the Yemen Free Youth as part of the independent youth work, he was member of its council. Thus his first tent was the tent they set up for the coalition, which acted as a shelter and organizational point for the independent youth who faced difficulties with the Islah party. The coalition’s slogan was “No Political Parties, Our Revolution is a Youth Revolution.”
Dabwan was once almost kidnapped by anonymous men in a car on his way from the Square to Madhbah. Inside the square he also faced violations of his rights and continuous interrogations “because of the coalition”. “We kept silent for long time about the violations against the independent youth, but now we have silent marches inside the square to condemn the violations against us,” he said.
In the early days of the revolution, he said, “They [Islah] cut of our banners sometimes, some of the more active youth in our coalition faced double danger as they were followed by the security forces and also sometimes kidnapped by the Islamists in the square. Still, we try to address this kind of behavior inside the square because we are aiming for a more cohesive country.”
Dabwan was also threatened with being transferred from his job and was interrogated on the charge of “leading school students to engage in political activism in Change Square.” His salary was suspended as a result.
“Ameen is one of those youth leaders in Change Square who works in silence, a very modest person who always smiles and knows how to absorb anger,” said one of the protesters.
Dabwan said that the independent youth are more revolutionary despite their poverty, and that despite their being less organized than other popular movements in the Arab World, their efforts will eventually end the revolution and achieve their goals.
“I vow to continue the revolution. The US and Saudi Arabia won’t change our dreams. We can establish a civil state that draws the respect of its neighbors later, but for now we will revolt until we fix the country.”