Yemen's third largest city Taiz has been the throbbing heart of the Yemeni revolution and for the past few months has also become its bleeding heart, especially since President Ali Abdullah Saleh's forces intensified their violent attacks on the city since May 26, 2011. That day is known as the Taiz Massacre, when Freedom Square was attacked and protesters' tents in the sit-in area were set on fire resulting in numerous deaths and injuries. Taiz has since become known as the city of resilience.
NajlaMo acknowledges that in her tweet:
Thank you #Taiz for starting and (will finish) what we should have started many years ago, you are the brave city and so is ur ppl. #Yemen
The revolution in Yemen continues despite the inking of the unpopular Gulf Cooperation Council-brokered deal. Marches still continue as forceful as ever, rejecting the deal, demanding the fall of the regime and Saleh's prosecution.
Nothing changed for the city of Taiz after the signing of the GCC initiative, on November 23, as the attacks on the city intensified and the indiscriminate shelling on the residential areas by Saleh's forces has continued.
According to the deal, all military forces would be withdrawn from the streets of the cities and retire to their barracks once a military committee is formed within five days of signing the initiative. This has not been the case. On the contrary, more military reinforcement are reported to have reached the city, an explicit breech to the deal.
The deal also calls upon Saleh to step down and transfer power to Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
This video posted by FreeDomTaiz shows the intensity of the violent attacks that Taiz is enduring every night for the past months:
The resilient people of Taiz shelled overnight, go out the very next morning in marches to condemn the violence they face daily, which destroys their homes, kills their loved ones and terrorizes their children. They take to the streets to express their steadfastness and commitment to the revolution. They chant “Taiz is free and will not kneel, even if a thousand cannons were fired.” (video posted by taizcitynet)
The following two videos show the attacks on the city even in broad daylight (both posted bymediacentersanaa):
Meanwhile, Yemeni activist Atiaf Alwazir raises a valid point highlighting the continued violence despite the signing of the deal and asks what are the ramifications of such a breech:
due to violence in #Taiz, will the #UN seek sanctions against violators of #GCC mechanism or seek a ban on military supplies to #Yemen ?
The GCC deal is perceived by many as a “License to Kill” for Saleh and his forces.@SupportBahrainRights expressed this in his tweets:
@WomanfromYemen GCC deal has legitimized crimes against humanity in #Yemen. @noonarabia @summernasser @Afrahnasser #Taiz #UN #No2GCCdeal
and @FahdAqlan adds:
In #Taiz .. nobody has immunity to be killed .. except the killers !! #Yemen #No2GCCDeal
@alruwaishan also criticizes the GCC deal and the West's silence towards the violence in Taiz. He tweets:
The West doesn't want to help, the GCC and it's deal are worthless, and the media is oblivious. #Taiz is burning.
@Ulfat points out:
How are #GCC responding to failure of initiative? If they're not condemning violence in #Taiz, they never intended it to succeed. #Yemen
She raises a question to two official UN Twitter accounts:
@UN_Spokesperson @UN_HRC All twitter reports out of #Taiz today indicate the violence is ongoing. What's your position on this? #Yemen
@bajaberyemen tweets the latest figures as reported by Yemeni local paper Yemen Post on December 3rd:
Death Toll Rises to 28 in Three Days in #Taiz #Yemen yemenpost.net/Detail12345678…
AinYemenEng tweets the total deaths since the GCC deal was signed:
#Yemen Ain News: Since the signing in Riyadh: 33 martyrs and more than 152 wounded since the signing of the gulf… fb.me/U0Ap9ksS
Currently, the formation of the unity government is pending the formation of the military committee, yet Saleh once again objects to the members chosen by the JMP (Joint Meeting Parties) to be part of the military committee.
@alguneid a Yemeni veteran activist, based in Taiz tweets the reason for the delay:
#Yemen won't have a cabinet till Opposition & Saleh side agree on Military Committee. Saleh, objects to #JMPs nominees akhbaralyom.net/news_details.p…
He @alguneid adds:
Hadi: Won't form Military committee, till opposition forms cabinet. Opposition: Won't form cabinet till Hadi forms committee.You're in #Yemen
While the politicians disagree and the military continue their attack on the city, civil society attempts to play a vital role to save the civilians being targeted. Activists in Yemen are organizing a Support Taiz Caravan loaded with medical supplies, which will include MPs that represent the city, as well as youth and foreign journalists. Donations within Yemen and abroad are being collected to support the besieged city of Taiz.
Donations for #SupportTaizCaravan starting to roll in. You too can help us save lives!bit.ly/nTCPem #SupportYemen #Yemen #Taiz #yf
Journalist Jeb Boone sums up the GCC deal in his blog. He articulates his point by highlighting what needs to be done:
For true change to take place in Yemen, both the old guard of day to day politics and the military must be removed, especially members of Saleh’s family. His party, the General People’s Congress, still holds the majority of parliament and may continue to do so after elections with the presence of Saleh loyalist able to make small tweaks to election results. Yemen must start fresh. Like Egypt and the NDP, Yemen’s GPC should be dissolved to allow for a new parliamentarian structure to be built from the ground up. Most importantly, the sons of a deposed dictator must no longer hold sway over the nation’s military. Unless policymakers in the US, EU, GCC, and UN are willing to help Yemenis dislodge Saleh’s presence from the country entirely, his power will be only nominally diminished.
Saleh's family still control the military, which is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians. The GCC deal did not change anything on the ground. The revolution continues through the peaceful marches across Yemen and so does the violence on civilians by Saleh's forces in many Yemeni cities. Yet Taiz seems to be paying the heaviest price. Tweeps have used the hashtags #Savetaiz and#TaizIsBleeding to draw attention to the city's tribulation.
@A_Al3ansy: sends an appeal through a picture saying ‘Taiz is under fire, stop the violence on it.”
#SaveTaiz #Taiz #Yemen #SupportYemen pic.twitter.com/qbF5CHNV
* This post was first published in Global Voices on Dec 4th, 2011