Many exciting, inspiring and terrible things are happening here in sana'a and throughout yemen. al jazeera is mostly ignoring it. i have a lot more to send if i have time to type it up. people here believe they will succeed and they wont give up.
Yesterday February 12 I met a guy who was actually sort of inspiring. That morning in San’a anti regime demonstrators met in front of the new university. It grew to the hundreds as onlookers and passersby joined the students and activists. Protestors called for an end to the current regime in Yemen, shouting things like ‘the people want the regime to fall down.’ Yemeni security forces arrested one youth who was writing slogans for the protestors. Then pro regime demonstrators arrived. Known as “balataga” or thugs locally they carried sticks and clashed with a number of demonstrators. As a result the anti regime protestors walked towards the old university. They met security forces there and later they were confronted by dozens more balataga carried clubs, axes, the traditional Yemeni dagger known as a jambia as well as electrical tasers. Several anti regime protestors were assaulted. At least one of them was hit with an electrical taser, stabbed in his hand and beaten on his leg, face and the back of head. This victim was not a political activist or student, but a middle aged mechanic named Muhamad who had been walking to work when he saw the demonstration and joined it. Muhamad claims that the man who tased him looked like a member of the Yemeni security forces, a common complaint among anti-regime demonstrators.
Muhamad had been walking to work and he saw the demonstration and joined, he said, “because I am against the regime because I faced difficulties from sheikhs and others and these problems destroyed my family. They even shot at my children while I was working in Saudi. I went to the justice institutions and despite all this and confessions and proof they increased the injustice by the security and justice institutions, in addition to what we suffer economically. From this I concluded that the Yemeni governmentt uses law to serve the strong and doesn’t serve the poor class and labor class and as one of the Yemeni people that is persecuted its my right to express my feelings and defend our rights and our freedom and our honor.”
Muhamad did not belong to any political party. He was a very simple man and he also did not even own a television. Muhamad has six children and works illegally as a mechanic in Saudi Arabia, sneaking across the border.
I asked him about Egypt. “Egyptians suffered from the same thing we suffer here,” he said, “and they have the right to choose their destiny. I encourage any persecuted person to demand their rights democratically because a human was born free and a human is human not an animal, he cant be guided by a stick. And I want from the regime to treat us like humans and to put the law to serve everybody equally without discrimination. We don’t feel like humans we feel like animals. We don’t have health or security. I met people in demonstrations. I found them suffering from the same thing I suffer. So its my right to express my opinion and express what I suffer from this current regime.”
He was just a normal poor guy, totally non political and not educated but he spoke passionately and sincerely and somehow knew what his rights were.
The Arabist is published and edited by Issandr El Amrani, a writer and analyst based in Cairo, with contributions by friends.
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