Monday, December 26, 2011

So what's going on in Yemen?

I was on my way home from work a few weeks ago, around 5:45 am, when I stopped into my local/favourite deli on the corner. I love this deli and I love the guys who work in it. They are all from the same big Yemeni family and always remember me, remember what I like to eat, ask me how I am and how my day is going and all of that nice stuff. And I always return the favour. I stop by to say hello, chat with the guys about where they are from as well as random everyday stuff, kind of just make the place into my local corner shop that I stop into every day. The reason I stopped by after work the other night was because I saw some sketchy looking guys hanging out on my street corner, and I just didn't feel comfortable walking past them - so I went to hang out at the deli for a bit, until they left. The guys who were working the night shift were watching something on TV behind the counter, and I joined them... They were watching reports on the ongoing protests and governmental/police violence in Yemen, protests that have been going on for months.

Yet again another country that the media doesn't really care about. I posted about Bahrain a while ago, and we all know what happened there (or you do if you either read my post and watched the AJE documentary I posted). So what's been happening in Yemen? The country has been rising against the existing governmental body, requesting the resignation of president Ali Abdullah Saleh since last January. That means nearly a whole YEAR. A whole year of protests and crackdowns on protests and police and the army shooting into the crowds and killing people. A year of negotiations and agreements and backing out of agreements and confusion and lies and more marches and demonstrations. The murder of innocent people by the government is not calming the crowds down - it's making them even more intent on fighting for change.

Saleh has been in power since 1978. That is the year I was born, and this means that the same man has been governing Yemen for the past 33 years. I honestly doubt that he has been democratically elected as president for the past 33 years, so it's only natural that the people want to see something different, especially with the other uprisings and fall of dictatorships in other Arab countries this year. Apparently the elections in Yemen have been set for next February, but with the recent shootings who knows? Protesters marched miles for 4 days from the city of Taiz to the capital to demonstrate their unhappiness and discontent with the way things are moving, and were attacked with tear gas and sniper shots; men throwing stones at the crowds and attacking women. How much longer does this need to go on for until someone decides that it's enough? Is this another Bahrain, or maybe another Egypt? There has been internal fighting in Yemen for years now, and different political factions clashing... Including Al-Qaeda. So with Saleh on his way out, does this mean a different type of worry for the West?

Do you even really care? I know I do. And I know my friends from the deli on the corner are worried about their country and their family. I know revolution is not usually non-violent, but it doesn't always need to come at such a price.

More information:
Yemen Live Blog on AJE
Yemeni Uprising on Wikipedia (remember that not everything is always 100% accurate)

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