Confrontations between protesters, security forces inflame situation in Yemen

Protests continue across Yemen. [Faisal Darem/Al-Shorfa]

Protests continue across Yemen. [Faisal Darem/Al-Shorfa]

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Protests continued in public squares in Sanaa, Aden, Taiz and a number of other Yemeni provinces Monday (March 14th) as the conflict between demonstrators and government forces became more violent.

Conflict erupted in Marib's Change Square as protesters tried to force their way into the provincial governor's building. Marib Governor Naji Al Zaidi was stabbed in the neck when assailants attacked his convoy. Fifteen demonstrators suffered various injuries during clashes.

In al-Jawf province, which is adjacent to Marib, at least 10 demonstrators were wounded as they broke into the governorate building. Several demonstrators reached the state security building where the head of the al-Masloub directorate and two soldiers were killed, according to an Interior Ministry statement published online Monday.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced a limited cabinet reshuffle Monday, appointing Hamoud Mohammed Abad as minister of endowments and guidance. Abad will succeed Judge Hamoud al-Hattar who was leading talks with the opposition parties. Aref Awad al-Zawka was appointed as minister of youth and sports, succeeding Hammoud Mohammed Abad.

Confrontations began Saturday at Change Square in Sanaa when security forces tried to break up the demonstration using tear gas, which led to clashes between protestors and security forces. As the situation worsened, security forces used live bullets, killing two people, according to protestors. About 1,000 protesters suffered from choking because of gas, including 50 who are in serious condition, according to Dr. Mohammed Alabahi, head of the field hospital at Change Square.

Saleh formed a panel of appeals court judges and tribal sheikhs to investigate Saturday's events in Change Square to verify the type of gas allegedly used by security forces on demonstrators. There were accusations that the gas used was not tear gas, but a toxic gas that infects the nervous system and causes severe choking.

Several doctors demanded that the interior ministry disclose the type of gas used against the demonstrators so they could find an appropriate treatment. According to Dr. Hosni Jawsai, professor of neurology at the University of Sanaa, "The gas is a compound of toxic material which exposes victims to severe cramps and choking that may lead to death in some cases."

On Sunday, clashes resumed in Change Square in front of the University of Sanaa where security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas to break up a clash between protesters and ruling party supporters, according to Fahd Almonovi, a member of the Co-ordinating Committee for the Youth of the Revolution. The clashes resulted in two deaths and dozens of injuries.

Demonstrations were held in several Yemeni provinces to condemn the violence and show solidarity with protesters in Change Square. Ensuing clashes resulted in eight deaths and dozens of injuries.

Aden protests intensify

In Aden, Alia Fouad, a human rights activist, told Al-Shorfa that students in Maala demonstrated Saturday morning, and two were wounded. Demonstrations intensified at night in Dar Saad, when demonstrators stormed the police station and clashes contributed to three deaths and 10 injuries.

Another demonstration was launched in the city of Mukalla, in eastern Yemen, which resulted in the death of one student.

Dar Saad was the site of renewed demonstrations Sunday, where protesters broke into the police station and set it on fire and burned police cars in apparent retaliation for the victims of the clashes on Saturday.

The Yemeni Ministry of Defence announced in a statement that one of the wounded had died, increasing the death toll in Aden to four. Demonstrations condemning what happened in Change Square occurred in Mareb, Amran, Al-Hudaydah, Al-Bayda and Shabwa, and for the first time, in the border province of Mahra, which is adjacent to Oman.

The protests followed Saleh's initiative, announced Thursday, which called for creation of a new constitution and adoption of a parliamentary system.

Ali Ansi, a member of parliament representing the opposition Reform Party who participated in the Change Square protest, told Al-Shorfa, "The regime has dropped its cards and its mask. The president had promised to protect opposition protesters. Is this the kind of protection that the president intended?"

Political parties that are members of the opposition Joint Meeting Parties called for Yemenis to "go into the street and join the squares of change and freedom in the various provincial capitals and district centres to defend their lives, their children's lives, their dignity and their right to a free, secure and dignified life", according to their statement issued on Saturday.

Tariq al-Shami, spokesman for the ruling Congress Party, accused the Joint Meeting Party of starting the events of Saturday. He told Al-Shorfa that "groups of troublemakers that belong to the Joint Meeting Parties pitched tents by force in front of houses and commercial shops, which led to friction and clashes and disorderly conduct between citizens who live in those neighbourhoods, and who are being harassed by the protesters. Riot police had to intervene to halt the clashes and end the disorderly conduct, and this was achieved with water cannons and tear gas smoke bombs."

Al-Shami denied that the armed forces, the Republican Guard and or the Special Guard were involved in the Saturday morning confrontations.

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  • READER COMMENTS

    عععع

    2011-4-12

    The army only serves Ali Saleh and obeys the ignorant Minister of Defense.

  • ELAF

    2011-3-22

    Dear brothers, ask God to save us from the unrest.

  • محمود سليمان

    2011-3-20

    I want all those who have said such things about these peaceful demonstrations with the objective of tarnishing their image to tell me whether these demonstrations are calling for the burning down of the country and causing strife, or whether they are calling for the unity of Yemen, for the people’s freedom, and for the improvement of their living conditions. None of the demonstrators were protesting for their own personal interests. Rather, all of them were decrying the fact that Yemen is suffering from poverty, corruption and the absence of any infrastructure. Moreover, these peaceful demonstrations did not engage in confrontations with the security forces or attacks against government buildings. The greatest evidence is what is taking place in Libya, after the demonstrations have turned into armed confrontations, and there is now a resistance movement there. We have not engaged in such things, so why are they describing these peaceful and respectable demonstrations that the constitution has approved for Yemeni citizens to engage in, and given them the right to take part in, as demonstrations that are causing troubles, and saying that they should be stopped? We are going to keep demonstrating, and we will never stop. We do not care about these false claims, because we have faith in what we are doing, and our demands must be met in order to end these peaceful demonstrations, which will remain peaceful until our demands are met.

  • مروان فهد

    2011-3-20

    Those who are saying that these demonstrations are controlled, or that they are under external influences and that they are serving a foreign agenda, are dishonorable traitors to their religion and their people, because these demonstrations are peaceful and are not sectarian, nor are they causing tension in the country. We won’t allow the image of the demonstrators to be smeared, or that of these blessed demonstrations that are calling for the improvement of the living conditions of the citizens and the country, and for allowing sufficient freedoms so that change can be effected in Yemen, and putting in place a government of young people who are full of vigor and who will work to improve the conditions in Yemen, develop it and address the widespread corruption in the country and in all the governmental institutions.

  • بدر مهدي

    2011-3-20

    I believe that Ali Abdallah Saleh is better than others, since he is a president who has been in power in Yemen for the longest presidential term. This is proof of the people’s trust in him, and proof that he knows how to deal with the Yemeni tribes, and we know how difficult it is to convince and please them. He has brought the socialists and the Islamists together. Suffice it to say that he has unified Yemen with a blessed unification that has restored Yemen as a single nation. There is no need to replace the president in this uncivilized way, as he is the one who has developed Yemen as well as he could, and according to the limited means available. In addition to all this, he has stated that he would not run for office for another term. So, we need to safeguard the country, and ensure that the process of transfer of power is done in a legal and official manner. There are elections that will be held, and then those who do not want Ali Abdallah Saleh to remain in power can say so by voting for another candidate, instead of what is taking place in the country now, as this is wrong, and it is something that we will regret in the future.

  • نعيم

    2011-3-19

    Anyone praising Ali Abdallah Saleh and describing him as a good leader could either be an admirer of the Yemeni president himself, or he could be one of his supporters, or he could have seen nothing bad coming from him, or it could be that he has not been harmed by this government. However, we can see that most of the Yemeni people are against Ali Abdallah Saleh, and definitely this issue will inevitably have these various standpoints. We always find that there are those that stand beside the president and there are those that are against him, and as such, not everyone is on the side of the president or with him, as this is impossible, since in every country there are supporters of government policies and there are those who oppose them, even if it is a good government. Those standing beside the Yemeni president Ali Abdallah Saleh are those who support his rule, and those that have taken an opposing stance are those that have been harmed by this government, or they have been denied services and have experienced gross neglect and remarkable carelessness on the part of this government. There is an extreme urgency to replace this government in order to safeguard everybody’s interests, so that the situation can get better and so that everyone can feel comfortable, because this government has engaged in gross neglect against many of the Yemeni people. Those who stand in support of the government of Ali Abdallah Saleh should take into account the public good, and the government should take this into consideration as well.

  • خبير عسكري

    2011-3-19

    O you who support the corrupt people, you should fear God, because he may destroy you. You must fear for the future of your children. I swear you do not have any achievement. You destroyed Yemen and caused the spread of poverty, disease and oppression. I ask you by God, what you think of the courts in Yemen?

  • الفجر الباسم

    2011-3-19

    What is the source of this joke? Did the army come from a strange planet or what? If the speaker is insane, the listener must be wide awake and attentive. Stop deceiving people, because we have the voice and the picture to support our claims, but you have nothing but nonsense.

  • سيف عبدالله القباطي

    2011-3-19

    We want to say that the age of evil is short, regardless of its power, while the truth and its people will remain forever. I swear, this regime is known for its ways of deceit and oppression. Their end is near. Woe to all traitors and cowards. Congratulations to the families of the martyrs, congratulations to all the honorable people and to all heroes. Woe to the corrupt regime and its followers. They have betrayed God, the Prophet, peace be upon him, and their trusts.

  • العماري

    2011-3-18

    The Yemeni army is backed by tanks in the streets of Al-Mukalla and more than five tanks, in addition to army troops.

  • hosain

    2011-3-18

    Today, a state of emergency has been declared in Taiz.

  • رضوان المخلافي صنعاء

    2011-3-18

    We confirm that the Yemeni army and the Special Forces are present in the Square of Change, but they are the thugs who blend in with the demonstrators and open fire on them from the neighboring houses. Those immoral people do not care about the interests or security of the home. They only want to destabilize the Yemeni street, as we have noticed in the square that hosts the sit-in in Sana’a.

  • ghanem

    2011-3-18

    The Arab peoples’ coming out on the streets and demanding their rights is a legitimate action, because the Arab governments have forgotten that there are people who need services, and the duty of these governments is to serve the interests of the people, and not to dominate or kill them when they demand their legitimate rights. Any government that has done its duty to the fullest should search for a convergence with the people. But what is happening is a clear indication that the governments are falling short in serving the Arab peoples, and they are not acting properly to satisfy them. So they have come out to awaken the dormant governments that have forgotten their peoples. These governments should work hard, instead of staying idle and neglecting the rights of the people who have suffered from these corrupt governments. Therefore, a time of resentment has arrived, and the Arab peoples have rebelled against the governments that are preoccupied with the pleasures of this world and have abandoned the trust of the people. People have been patient for decades without witnessing any development or provision of services, which the Arab people deserve. The Arab peoples must continue their demonstrations, uprisings and sit-ins until all their demands are met and the dormant governments wake up after neglecting the rights of the citizens. These corrupt governments, which stole and looted the people's rights, must be changed. At the same time, the peoples should adhere to and exploit this opportunity for the sake of everyone. They should not allow the dictatorial Arab rulers to suppress the voices and freedoms of the people. Those rulers have alleged that they apply democracy, but they have never proved this. There should be serious actions taken to achieve all the demands of the Arab peoples, who have been deprived of their most basic and legitimate rights.

  • ابو فيصل

    2011-3-17

    O God! Save the security of our country and protect them from the hands of the corrupt people. We ask God to support them, but they should return to the scholars and the leaders who are loyal to this country in order to protect the people and properties. Whatever happens, all the zealous people need to adhere to the Book of God and the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him, in addition to fearing God in themselves. They should also respect the blood of the martyrs, which was shed in the streets and alleys. Your brother Faisal.

  • اكرم

    2011-3-17

    Yemen must remain united. The Joint Meeting Parties describe the people who oppose them as thugs, but they are in fact the thugs and they are seeking to divide the country.

  • yahya

    2011-3-16

    Ali Abdullah Salih was a victim of many disagreements and conflicts in the country. In fact, Yemen is a tribal country that includes many opposition movements of secular people, socialists and Islamists. All of them have demands and all of them are only trying to achieve their own interests, without any cooperation between them. Moreover, there are conflicts between north and south. And perhaps Ali Abdullah Salih was busy solving these issues, which are important for the country’s stability. In fact, he succeeded in solving many conflicts. That’s why we should not put all the blame on the president. However, it is important that every citizen have a look at the country and the difficult characters of its people and tribes. In fact, I am not defending Ali Abdullah Salih. However, the truth must be told. Thus, I hope for the stability of the country, either under the rule of Ali Abdullah Salih or under the rule of someone else.

  • مصطفى حسين

    2011-3-16

    We thank you for this beneficial information and we wish to see information that speaks about other areas and acts of sabotage there. We also want to know the reasons behind these acts of sabotage, whether from the opposition or the ruling party. Thank you.

  • البيحاني -عدن

    2011-3-15

    We confirm the statements of brother Tariq al-Shami, who said that the units of the commandoes and central security or the army did not participate in the attack against the demonstrators. Those who attacked the demonstrators are alien forces from the neighboring galaxy!!