Friday, February 10, 2012

Yemen: An Unfinished Revolution

Yemen's revolution is undoubtedly the longest in the Arabspring, yet Yemeni disagree on which day it started. Some say it started on February 3rd, when a group of activists protested infront of Sanaa University, some say February 11th, when the first sit-in tents where erected in Taiz, and others say February 20th when the first martyrs were killed in Aden and Taiz. Yet, Yemen's revolution has been mostly associated with February 11th, the downfall of Egypt's Mubarak.

When the revolution started, many, including myself, were apprehensive, since Yemen is known to be the second most armed nation in the world and almost daily a civil war was predicted to break out, yet amazingly Yemen's revolution turned out to be the least violent in the Arabspring. Despite the regimes violence and killings, protesters refrained from using their weapons and faced bullets with bare chests. Power outage, food, water, cooking gas and fuel shortages were imposed on them for months by the regime, yet protesters resiliently remained steadfast in the sit-in tents in the squares and peacefully marched in millions in the streets, day after day, week after week demanding, freedom, democracy, justice and social equality. 

Hundreds were killed and thousands were injured, yet those responsible for their killings, outgoing president Ali Abdullah Saleh and his regime, were granted an immunity with the power transfer deal brokered by the GCC, fully supported by the US and UN and unanimously passed by the Yemeni parliament.
This is a preview of the documentary "Karama Has No Walls" which shows the massacre that took place in Sanaa on March 18th, known as Friday of Dignity, in which 52 unarmed protesters were brutally killed by security forces.

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world and a year of revolt has had it's toll on it. The humanitarian and economic crisis exhausted Yemenis and the fear of war looming in the horizon forced some to accept the political solution offered by the GCC initiative and to embrace the unity government, which was based on a 50-50 power split between the GPC, the ruling party and the JMP, the "so called" opposition. Some are willing to vote for Adu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Saleh's Vice President for the past 18 years, recently rewarded for his services and promoted to brigadier and the sole presidential candidate in the February 21st s-election, and give him a 2 year chance. Yet, others doubt in Hadi and view him as a continuation of Saleh's rule. They are still committed to the demands of the revolution and are determined to bring about true change in Yemen through passive civil resistance. There are numerous ongoing strikes and uprisings against corruption in the military, governmental and public institutions and plans to boycott the upcoming “one candidate” presidential election. Sadly, Yemen has openly become an international protectorate, with regional and international players determining it's future rather than it's own people.
This video made by SupportYemen in early October highlights the demands of the revolution and the hopes of many.

A year later, Yemen is back to square one with a fragmented and weak opposition. Saleh who has been ruling Yemen for the past 34 years, might be finally stepping down as president on February 21st, yet his son, nephews and brothers still control the military apparatus, and his regime is very much intact. 
The revolution in Yemen remains unfinished ... May our martyrs rest in peace.

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