The Life of Yemeni Activists

Sanaa’s annual spring rain began. Under the rain we marched in solidarity with the people of Taiz who were attacked by security forces for three consecutive days. At the march, my eyes were on the rooftops of buildings, searching for snipers. Snipers have been used in many occasions to kill peaceful protesters.

Two nights ago, snipers again shot at peaceful protesters. Heavy tear gas and water cannons were also used against them. Watching the live coverage on Suheil TV of the field hospital at the change square made me feel so helpless. I found my mind filled with worries. Some of the wounded might die from the lack of medical help, not necessarily from the severity of the condition. Medical conditions that may be treatable in normal circumstance seem impossible due to lack of medical aid here. Humanitarian aid organizations have turned away from protesters they call overly political. But humanitarian relief should be for everyone, regardless of political affiliations.

Our Work
My day is torn between making phone calls to different cities for updates, monitoring and documenting events at the square via video, photos and blogs, attending meetings at the square, translating information into English, reading and watching news, working on awareness-raising brochures and short video clips, marching, communicating with international media, and spreading information through Twitter and Facebook.

The committees at the square are also noteworthy. Organization, medical, media, legal, and fund-raising committees are all working hard to help protesters and empower the revolution.

Public squares have become great entities of civic engagement. Awareness-raising seminars are happening on a daily basis by academics, human rights activists and youth leaders. They spread information on topics such as: women’s rights, legal rights, constitution, peaceful resistance, the power of persuasion, citizenship etc. Artists are also using their talents for social change. Well-known musicians are joining, CDs with revolutionary songs are being sold, photographers and filmmakers are documenting history as it unfolds.

Revolution’s Impact on Life
We have become somewhat paranoid due to the current political environment. Unfortunately, many people are distrustful of each other due to the increase in potential security personnel everywhere. The newly passed emergency law allows for wide arrests and detentions. Some activists and journalists are continuously threatened and harassed, and some kidnapped.

Yemenis are known to own guns in almost every home, but we have not used them in this struggle. Yemenis, even those from the tribes, chose not to use violence, and instead chose the path of peaceful resistance.

Sanaa University is still closed, and it seems that it will remain so until the following academic calendar. Many schools have closed, and some wealthy families have left Yemen in so that their children can continue their education.

Checkpoints are present throughout the city searching for weapons. The closure of important roads leading to the presidential palace have created traffic problems. There is major cooking gas shortage and some households are suffering from water shortage. Banks are very low on dollars. New Yemeni currency is floating around, a terrible sign of possible future inflation. Saleh will leave the country with no money, high inflation, and dwindling oil resources.

Future expectations
We receive conflicting messages on a daily basis. We cannot predict what will happen next. We are witnessing a stand-off between the will of the people and Saleh. The recent violent attacks, are hopefully a sign of Saleh’s last days. Desperate governments take desperate measures.

No one doubts that Saleh will leave, but we are expecting more violence before the final exit. The question is, how will he leave? Will he succeed in instigating the military to respond violently in order to start a war? Will it continue to be peaceful resistance? Etc

More importantly, most people realize that our struggle for reform will not end when Saleh leaves. The next phase will be a very long struggle to safeguard the principles of this revolution for the formation of a civic state with equality, citizenship, and justice.


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