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Protests Continue Over ‘Life March’ Killings

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SANA’A, Dec. 25 – Tension has returned to Sana’a, after a five-day  ‘Life March’ from Taiz to the Yemeni capital protesting Saleh’s GCC-sponsored immunity from prosecution ended in the death of at least 13 protesters on Saturday.

Although the interior minister had vowed to protect the peaceful march, at least 13 protesters were killed by live ammunition when they reached Sana’a on Saturday. Security forces were deployed all over the city. Tear gas and sewage were used to disperse the march.

However, the minister created a committee to investigate the killings revoking all rumors that claimed he resigned because of this incident.

Mohammed Basundwa, prime minister of the new ‘National Unity’ government has said that he will resign if those responsible for the killings are not identified within 48 hours, according to Al-Khaleej newspaper.

President Saleh, in a press conference on Saturday evening, held the new government responsible for the attacks, for the first time pointing the finger at the government rather than to his opponents, defected major Ali Mohsen and the Ahmar family.

At the time of writing, Sunday afternoon, violence continued in the capital’s Change Square, where protesters rallied to denounce the killings. At least seven were injured and others were detained over fighting on the square’s main stage. In other parts of the country,

marches also protested the killings.

Independent youth had decided to set out on the 250-km-long march from Taiz to Sana’a to protest against the Gulf initiative signed in Riyadh last November by Saleh and the opposition. Under the GCC-sponsored deal, Saleh’s power is transferred to his deputy but he remains honorary president until presidential elections planned in February

2012. The agreement ensures that 50 percent of government members are from the opposition, but grants Saleh and members of his regime immunity from prosecution.

On the Life March’s Facebook page, organizers had written: “It is a live expression of not recognizing the former government a part of which has been kept, and an expression of not recognizing the GCC initiative. It is a demonstration that we will uphold the objectives

of our peaceful revolution until they are achieved.”

Protesters marched to “show loyalty to martyrs and the injured in Taiz,” “demand the trial of those involved in crimes against protesters and those who steal our country’s resources,” “renew revolutionary energy in the different governorates crossed,” and “affirm the unity of te Yemeni people.”

Around 2,000 protesters left Taiz on Tuesday, Dec.20, and were received with joy in the villages and cities they passed. Others joined them on the way, and by the time they reached Ibb they were 4,000 protesters. By the time they reached Dhamar, they had become 7,000. At Naqeel Yasleeh, 60 kilometer from Sana’a, they were 100,000

protesters. Finally by the time they reached Sixty-Meter Road in Sana’a, they were over 500,000 protesters, according to a protest leader.

By the time protesters reached Sana’a they were exhausted. They marched peacefully in areas and neighborhoods that marches in Sana’a had previoulsy not reached. Protesters danced and chanted that the revolution would win and that Saleh would be executed. Residents received the march standing by the side of the road, with women ululating and men chanting “Welcome!” Some distributed candies.

“This is truly a historical day, we shall kiss the feet of those who came all the way from Taiz to reclaim our revolution after it was hijacked by the politicians,” said Mohammed Fare’e, a protester.

The march aimed to protest in Saba’een area near the presidential place, and parliament to protest against Saleh’s immunity from prosecution. The march however split in Sana’a, with part of the protesters marching through Sixty-meter Road to Change Square, while others at the end of the march decided to camp in Forty-five Street, less than two kilometers away from the presidential palace. They were attacked by security forces.

Meanwhile, controversy has stirred up over a statement made by US Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein in an interview with Yemeni journalists on Saturday saying, “Provocations could lead to further reaction and violence.»

On Facebook, some Yemeni users have read this statement as justification for killing the protesters.  A page entiltled “US ambassador Gerald Feierste leave or apologize” has appeared on the social networking website.

However, a source at the US embassy said that a day before the march, the embassy was in contact with Yemeni officials urging restraint and advising them to allow peaceful protestors to march to the square.


Written by shatha

December 26, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Yemeni Youth back to action

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After ten months of protesting to topple the regime, Yemenis say “the cake” was divided between the ruling party and the opposition parties as a result of the protests.  The youth who have started the protest have not reached any of their aims. The revolution in Yemen was hijacked by political parties to get to power after decades of dreaming of it and the change is really slow.

On the other hand, The independent youth mobilized their power to change the game to their favor. They decided to march in a different way this time to tell the world that they are still fighting for the change they want in Yemen. The march this time was for a 170 Mile from Taiz -the second largest city- to the capital Sana’a. Thousands have been marching since Tuesday Morning are expected to arrive to Sana’a on Friday Morning.  the protesters called their march, The March of life indicating bringing life to their revolution after months of political negotiations.

The March was scheduled prior to the exceptional parliamentary session to vote for President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s immunity on Dec.25 according to the power transition deal that was signed in Nov.23. the deal delegated Saleh deputy to be the acting president until an early election is held on Feb.21. in return Saleh  and  whoever has worked for him should be given immunity from prosecution by the parliament. The deal also brought the opposition political parties to power by a fifty fifty government style.

 It is worth mention that the current parliament is headed by Yahia al-Ra’I who was proved paying for thugs to kill protesters. 

Protesters from change square in Sana’a went to Dhamar to receive the March and join it to the end of their journey.

“The march is so tiring, our shoes cannot bear it any more, our faces look like we came from the graves, but we walk joyfully as we are walking toward heaven” said one of the protesters.   

Change square protesters in Sana’a organize a reception for the march.

“We are organizing a reception ceremony, whoever wants to participate should rejecter his/ her name before Friday morning” said  Abdallah Samof Sana’a Organizing committee. He added that buses will be transferring the participant from change Square to Naqeel Yasleeh –One of Sana’a entries- to start the celebration.

The youth decided to march in front of the parliament and the cabinet on Saturday to reject the immunity. Also to examine the opposition that became part of the government if they will act the same way Saleh acted or not.

The March of Life is the first of its kind since the Arab spring has begun. It is aimed to left up the youth spirit. And to unify their efforts. Thugs are reported getting prepared in Naqeel Yasleh.



Written by shatha

December 22, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Posted in Yemen's news

Hadi’s Presidential Competitors

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SANAA. Dec.17 — A number of activists have announced plans to run in the upcoming presidential election on February 21.

Vice president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi set the date for the early election after honorary President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed a power transfer deal in Saudi Arabia on November 23. The election will mark the beginning of the second phase of the transitional period for Yemen.

February’s election is also considered a “consensus election” with Hadi the sole candidate for both the ruling General People’s Congress (GPC) and the opposition JMP.

But only these two parties signed the Gulf deal, leaving out other powerful groups. The Yemeni constitution, which will be revised in the second phase of the transitional period, stated two conditions for presidential candidates. First, both parents must be Yemeni, and secondly, they must be at least 40 years old.

Article 108 of the constitution also states that the joint Shoura-parliament council, which oversees presidential elections, must present at least three candidates. To be accepted, any candidate must receive a minimum five percent endorsement from the council. At least two must then run for presidency for any Yemeni election to be valid.

Ibtesam Al-Hamdi, an independent candidate, has begun preparations for her election campaign. Al-Hamdi is a Cairo University graduate and mother of three, in her 40s who currently works as an accountant in an engineering office.

Al-Hamdi told the Yemen Times that the idea of running for presidency is not new for her as she considered it back in 1999.

“I am not running for presidency out of a desire to show women’s rights in this position,” said Al-Hamdi. “I am running out of my rejection of the ‘former regime’.”

She indicated that Hadi and his government are part of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime, therefore Hadi does not deserve to lead the country for the coming two years, she added.

Al-Hamdi said that the Yemeni people in Freedom and Change Squares will vote for her, and that they have already assured her of their support.

While she rejects the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreement, she added: “There is nothing in the GCC deal states that I cannot run in the election. On the contrary, the deal mentioned at least five times that women should be represented in everything.”

Al-Hamdi is the niece of former Yemeni president Ibrahim Al-Hamdi who was assassinated in October 1977 after two years in office. He is a well- loved Yemeni president, and his photos can be seen all across Change Squares. At the time of his assassination, Ibrahim Al-Hamdi’s family accused president Saleh of killing him. His niece told the Yemen times that she bets 50 percent on her family’s history, and 50 percent on her own diplomatic skills to win the election.

Tawakul Karman, Nobel Peace Prize winner and activist, also announced her desire to run for presidential election, although she is not yet 40. She also happens to be a member of the Islah Party, which is a signatory the GCC deal.

Other independent candidates have also revealed presidential ambitions, even though they do not meet the constitutional conditions. Protester Alaa Al-Jarban, who is 22 years old, announced on his Facebook page “Alaa Jarban for presidency” that he has made the decision to run in the election.

”I know I’m way below the legal age,” he explained. “Basically, I realize the danger and the almost impossibility of the campaign but the main goals of my campaign are to encourage more young people to enroll in policy-making, and help them realize it’s not impossible to achieve their dreams and make changes,” said Al-Jarban.

“I also want to put more pressure on the vice president,” went on Al-Jarban. “He is not the only candidate and the youth are ready to monitor and challenge him and any coming leaders in Yemen.”

The youth need to become more involved, both by nominating themselves for political positions and by exercising their right to vote, he added. “It’s time for change,” concluded Al-Jarban.

Written by shatha

December 19, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Posted in Yemen's news

Yemenis questioning the GCC deal

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Many Questions followed the power transition deal signing ceremony in Nov.23  in which President Ali Saleh who had been in office for 33 years,  has delegated his authorities to his deputy Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

These are some of the questions that Yemenis do not have clear answers to:

 What would happen if Hadi was killed before the censuses election that is supposed to be hold in Feb.21? There are some parties who will benefit from sabotage the deal especially that  the deal excluded many main parties in the Yemeni political life

What will happen if the Parliament did not vote for Saleh’s immunity in Dec.25?.

What will happen if other strong candidates run for the presidency election inFeb.21 that was designed in the deal to legitimate VP Hadi to be the next president for two years.

IIt is worth mentioning that only two parties signed the deal which means practically it is not obligating independent youth, the Houthies and southern Movement. So any candidate from these parties can run  for the election.

 According to the Yemeni blogger and journalist Afrah Nasser , the Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman ,32, announced  that she will run for Feb.21 presidency election, although in September Karman answered my question about  the possibility of her running for presidency  by saying “Presidency is not my ambition, I want to stay as a part of the youth Movement to be always watch dogs”.

The Yemeni constitution  stats that candidates should be at least 40 years old. The big question will be what would happen then??

 UN envoy Jamal Benomar, who has the responsibility to submit a report on the deal progress and Yemen situation to the Security Council, visited Saleh today.

 according to the state news agency Benomar updated Saleh on what he found in his two short visits to Aden and Taiz. He also updated him on his latest talks with different political parties. Al-Tageer net, independent news website, quoted high official who asked to remain anonymous that Beomar along with the USA ambassador in Sana’a are holding talks with, defected Majior General Ali Mohsen and Saleh  in order to re-unify the military which is part of deal. The question is, according to the deal Saleh has no power, why would Benomer update him on the situation. Why would he be part of the talks on unifying the military, when it should be hold with his son, Ahmed Ali, who is the commander of the Republican guards?

Is Saleh still the supreme leader of the armed forces or that task was delegated to VP Hadi as well?

Finally the most important Question,  why was the Independent youth who started the revolution in Feb. 2011 left out of the deal?? What is the role they should play now to stop hijacking the revolution? What are the tools they have for such role, especially if the new government tried to remove the protests.

If the Yemeni people had someone trustworthy to answer these questions, they would have a chance to decide wisely what they want next. Transparency is what they need before anything else.


Written by shatha

December 13, 2011 at 10:53 am

Posted in Yemen's news

December: A Good Month For Yemenis

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SANAA, Dec.11 – In the last month of 2011 four Yemenis won international awards in everything from human rights to signing competitions. Yemen saw bloody political unrest, an economic crash and a widespread humanitarian crisis in 2011, but still managed to end the year on a more positive note. On Saturday Yemeni human rights activist Tawakul Karman received her shared Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. Karman received the prize along with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first democratically elected female president of Liberia, along with Liberian women’s rights campaigner Leymah Gbowee. Karman was awarded the prize in recognition of her peaceful struggle; she has been calling for human rights and justice since 2006. She is now the both the youngest person to win as well as being the first Arab woman to receive the Nobel Prize. Karman is also one of the leaders of Yemen’s peaceful youth revolution and spent at least six months in Sana’a’s Change Square. Her first travel after winning was to Qatar a week later where she was received with joy and honor. On her way to the airport soldiers loyal to now horary president Ali Abdullah Saleh chanted for her. Karman left Yemen in October but has not given up her fight, travelling to the US, Europe and elsewhere campaigning on behalf of Yemen’s revolution. She has vowed not to return until Saleh steps down. “I have always believed that resistance against repression and violence is possible without relying on similar repression and violence,” she said at the ceremony. “I have always believed that human civilization is the fruit of the effort of both women and men. So, when women are treated unjustly and are deprived of their natural right in this process, all social deficiencies and cultural illnesses will be unfolded, and in the end the whole community, men and women, will suffer. “The solution to women’s issues can only be achieved in a free and democratic society in which human energy is liberated, the energy of both women and men together. Our civilization is called human civilization and is not attributed only to men or women.” A day before the Nobel Prize Ceremony, Yemenis received the news that young Yemeni singer Najeeb Al-Mukbeli, 26, had won first place in the Gulf Star signing competition. He became the second Yemeni in a row to win the competition following Fuad Abdulwahid who predicted on Facebook that his fellow Yemeni Al-Mukbeli, who sang a song for Yemen when the results were announced, would win. He has now signed five years contract with Rotana Music Company. Arwa Othman, a Yemeni photographer, received the Ana Maria Mamuliti 2011 international prize from the Italian Foundation Alimerva. Othamn established the House of Folklore in 2004 in Sana’a, where she is a distinguished writer and a well-known face of the Yemeni revolution. She was awarded the prize for her role in boosting Yemeni culture and traditional folklore. Othman was forced to flee to Egypt because of the deteriorating security situation in Yemen. In April she was a victim of extremist violence because of her role in leading opposition marches against Saleh’s regime. Finally, Yemeni journalist Khaild Al-Hammadi was presented an award by the international organization, Canadian Journalists For Free Expression. Al-Hammadi is a journalist for Al-Jazeera TV and a freelance producer for Al-Jazeera English TV; he also works as a photojournalist for Agence-France Presse. Al-Hammadi won the award for his brave coverage of the Yemeni revolution, which he continued to report on despite death threats for his work.

Written by shatha

December 12, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Posted in Yemen's news

Hasaba After The GCC: Still Bleeding

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Crossing the road past what residents call “The Great Wall of Hasaba” – a mound of sandbags blocking the road and warning passersby they are entering a war zone, stand big buildings scarred by bullets, shells and the wounds inflicted over months of conflict.

Passing the wall into Hasaba, people on the “safe side” shout warnings to turn back – it just too dangerous. Once in Hasaba, you can barely find residents. Those that are walking in the streets are mostly armed tribes, wearing their long Zannas – now a dirty white – guns slung across their backs, or located behind the sandbags with their weapons ready.

Despite Ali Abdullah Saleh’s signature on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative last month, clashes continue in Hasaba, where tribal figures of the Hashid Confederation, the biggest tribal confederation in Yemen, have fought the state since late May. The first round of fighting lasted almost 16 days before a truce was agreed. However, it was not implemented by either side and the conflict has been ongoing since.

Residents have repeatedly abandoned their homes and fled the fighting, only to return and be forced to leave again.

The children that remain in Hasaba have learned how to hide when the shooting starts, though they also collect the shells and bullets they find. A father told his eight-year-old son to bring the spent shells he had been playing with while his six-year-old daughter displayed the bullets she collects. “My children are like any others in this area, they have come to know the differences between the weapons since the clashes started. They are experts,” he said, making fun of the situation.

Small steps

Small steps towards stability have been taken since the Gulf deal was signed in November 23, following ten months of protests and public calls for an end to Saleh’s regime of more than three decades. Vice President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi is now the acting president according to the GCC initiative and has named the new prime minister as well as calling for early elections on February 21 – an election where he will be the sole candidate of both the ruling General People’s Congress and the opposition Joint Meeting Parties coalition.

Since the GCC, a number of Hasaba residents, who had escaped to their villages or other safer areas in the capital returned to their homes.

“After the GCC deal was signed I thought things would improve, therefore I brought my family back, but now I realize it will never improve and I am taking them back to the rented house I sent them to before,” said a resident, in the process of filling a taxi with his family and their belongings for the third time.

Mohammed Khalil, Frist Armored Division Brigadier General based in Hasaba, has his troops spread around the area to “protect public buildings”, while the troops and tribesmen await orders to leave Hasaba. Some say they will go once the military committee, formed this week, begins removing arms and troops from cities, other say they will go after the elections in February.

Hasaba’s residents are also waiting for those orders so that they can feel safe and return to their homes.

The war never seems to end or to have a reason to continue; no one seems to care about civilians, according to residents, Amal and Ahlam, who did not want to give their full names for security reasons. They live near the old headquarters of the General People’s Congress, which was severely damaged during the first round of war. When the Yemen Times met them, Amal and Ahlam had only returned to get the rest of their belongings and were not moving back to their home, despite the GCC deal.

“Our house was shelled by both sides, both Al-Ahmers and the state shelled our house as they thought our neighbors were armed, but we were the least damaged,” said Ahlam.

Some of their neighbor’s homes had damage from RPGs (Rocket Propelled Grenades), and you can clearly see the path of the bullets and blasts going from one side of the wall to the other.

In the house next door, a pregnant woman was lying, exhausted in a room also damaged by shelling, while her mother-in-law said: “This is how we live,” indicating the hard life they lead in the damaged house that they only got. “We are four families and when they are shelling we all have to sleep downstairs in the same room to stay safe.”

A glimpse of normality

Life seemed to resume to some extent in Hasaba after the Gulf deal was signed in Riyadh because people were optimistic they would be safer, even though Al-Ahmer tribes in the area did not sign the accord.

However, the militant tribesmen occupying buildings in Hasaba claimed that Shiekh Sadeq Al-Hamer pays rent to the building’s owner so that his men can stay, giving an even more permanent air to the situation.

“We are not leaving the area until the new government is formed “ said one of the tribesmen. “We came all the way to Sana’a from Amran a month ago, we are not leaving until we make sure the GCC is implemented.”

Written by shatha

December 8, 2011 at 6:31 am

Posted in Violation

GCC Implementation sees return of Saleh

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SANAA, Dec 4 — The General People’s Congress (GPC) has delegated both Honorary President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his deputy, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, to nominate ministers for the General People’s Congress’ share of the National Unity Government. The new government should be formed within 14 days of Saleh’s signing of the power transfer deal in Saudi Arabia on November 23.

To date, two formal steps in the deal were taken by Hadi on November 26, those of naming the opposition’s prime minister and calling for an early election, to be held on February 21.

“One step at a time, we don’t expect a miracle,” said Michelle Cervone d’Urso, European Union ambassador and head of the European Union Delegation in Yemen.

The ruling party’s return of some political power to Saleh provoked an angry response from youth protesters and was taken as being a manipulation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) deal.

“Everyone knows by now that Saleh won’t let go. He will play games until the last day of his life. That is why we rejected the deal in the first place,” said Ahmed Al-Ma’mari from Sana’a’s Change Square.  He added that he wouldn’t be surprised if Saleh names his son Ahmed as a minister.

Hadi was supposed to have formed a military committee within five days of the deal’s signing. Continuing violence – most notably in Taiz – has only raised the need for the demilitarization of Yemen’s major cities. Meanwhile, Hadi has yet to complete this aspect of the deal.

Though he had already been granted to the power to order the military to withdrawal, Hadi instead merely issued a call for an end to the fighting in Taiz and for such a withdrawal.

“Saleh keeps his power as the Supreme Leader of the armed forces until the Election on February 21,” said Ahmed Al-Sofi, Saleh’s Information Secretary. “What I understand from the Gulf Cooperation Council deal is that it was signed in order to end the crisis – not to found a new state.”

Cervone d’Urso said he had noticed some changes, including more hours of power (but, according to him, not enough), more available cooking gas and water, and less armed checkpoints. He also said that the government should prioritize retaking land lost to militants and opposition tribesmen en route to re-establishing a national-wide presence.

He added that youth protesters and other parties who were not included in the deal will be included later on.

“The youth is suspicious of the deal. They will need to see change before they agree to anything,” he said.

“They are free to stay at and around the Freedom and Change Squares, or to leave.”

Written by shatha

December 5, 2011 at 8:29 am

Posted in Yemen's news

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