Fifty dead, hundreds injured, no photos allowed
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL 22 July 2005
“Yemen: International rules on law enforcement must be upheld
Amnesty International is concerned at reports that dozens of people have been killed during violent protests over the last two days. Scores of protesters, including children, are said to have been arrested and may be at risk of torture.“
Yahoo What began Wednesday as anger over Yemen’s crumbling economy turned into a rare open expression of fury at the country’s leaders, with rioters demanding the government’s ouster and burning pictures of top officials.
The clashes have not been confined to the capital, erupting in at least a half-dozen cities in the worse civil strife in more than a decade.
The decrepit economy has sparked growing resentment in the mountainous, tribal-dominated nation. Yemen discovered oil in 1986, but the profits have not trickled down to the public and the government has been accused of rampant corruption. Unemployment is 36 percent.
Update 7/22: Protests Spread to all the Governates
Hi MSNBC readers: theres lots more about Yemen all over my blog. Take a look for the real story about this “reforming democray” that is in actuality a brutal dictatorship with a strong indiginous pro-democracy movement that is repressed at every turn.
The protests are about the huge rise in oil and gas prices. Someone should note that in this very corrupt country gas is sold at half of the current market value. Oil revenue is reported on the books with a sale price of $22/barrel when it goes for what now $45? Wonder who is benefitting from that? Not the Yemeni people.
Update 7/21: Khaleej Times (probably written by the reporter who got his car demolished by the Yemeni security forces):
Twelve (more) people were killed during clashes on Thursday between security forces and armed demonstrators in a second day of deadly protests against a government decision to hike fuel prices, witnesses said.
At least 50 protestors were also wounded in the capital and at least six towns in the south and north, with government forces, backed by army tanks and armored vehicles, deployed along main roads.
A number of journalists working for foreign television told AFP the Yemeni information ministry has banned them from airing footage from the violence via satellite transmission. (ht: Strata-sphere, analysis from AJStrata further down.)
The Yemen Observer reports today’s days events this way: The city has returned to state of calm….However, peaceful gatherings have been reported in some parts of the city.
Also: Prime Minister Abdul-Qader Bagammal said in a television address, “We are not accusing anyone but we call those infiltrating the masses to stop harming society. They are the true saboteurs and we will confront them,” he said without elaborating. (Should we take bets on who he’s going to “confront”: the democracy advocates, the journalists, the Popular Forces Union, the Houthis?)
We are all worried. Things may get out of control. In my neighborhood and around it today, there was a total loss of control. Nothing held people except that they all view the gov as the enemy. In other areas, things went differently. Demonstrators smashed cars, signs, and glass windows. They ransacked some gov buildings, banks, and other key buildings.
As the sun rises tomorrow, we will know what to expect.
There’s a lot of pent up fustration in Yemen. This is about more than just the price increases, its about a brutal dictator pillaging the economy and stealing the future of a generation of children. (Half of Yemen’s children have never been to school, but theres loads of new weapons-that come in handy now-and millions in private bank accounts of the elite. )
Update, Yemen Obbserver:
Crowds then turned on the police and military with sticks and rocks. The scenes, repeated in other cities throughout Yemen, left the city in a state of shock.
The current death toll stands at 6 in Sana’a, 3 in Dhamar, and 6 in Dhali’. Dozens more people have been injured, according to local media reports. There’s no official statement to confirm or deny the figures above.
Several banks were attacked in Sana’a, including the Central Bank of Yemen, as well as a number of governmental institutions, among them the headquarters of the Ministry of Oil & Minerals and the Ministry of Finance, and several other government buildings.
After 25 years of President Saleh’s brutal rule, Yemen is among the most impoverished in the world, illiteracy is near 50%, and unemployment is very high, while the country’s elites have become richer and more powerful. They are so powerful, the ruling party this week closed down a lawful political oppositon party by taking over its headquarters and newspaper at gunpoint. But in addition to lacking free speech, civil rights, and an independent judiciary, the Yemeni people also lack food, an educational system, and doctors.
Saleh is reputedly worth 20 billion. Economic reforms repealing goverment subsidies on commodity items were instutited yesterday, the impact of which will be felt most keenly by the poor who are barely sustaining themselves now. The massive governmental corruption, noted as among the pervasive in the world, has not been addressed. So again the Yemeni people pay the price for the privileged postions of those in power. This time they’re protesting.
Yemen Times: Observers expect massive rallies across the country after the death of at least 15 civilians in violent demonstrations mainly in the cities Sanaa, Dhamar and Dhale’. The demonstrations were caused by anger due to the government’s decision of raising the prices of petroleum directive products between 50% and 100%.
Thousands of angry men took into the streets in the capital Sana’a and set fire to tires, blocked streets and hurled stones at the prime minister’s office while shops closed for fear of looting.
Demonstrators shouted slogans attacking Bagammal and the ruling party of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Police, using tear gas and water cannon to control the crowds, blocked off the house of Vice President Abd-Rabbu Hadi where protesters converged.
“This is a natural reaction because the government’s reforms are a lie and we can’t take it any more…This government is making the rich richer and the poor poorer,” said one young man in Sanaa.
Opposition parties say such measures will increase pressure on the poor and demand instead a crackdown on corruption, which they blame for Yemen’s economic problems.
These are not the protests begging Saleh to stay in power that some of his loyalists were predicting here yesterday. This the people putting the blame where it belongs.
YO: Eight deaths have, as of Wednesday mid-afternoon, been confirmed following violent confrontations between police and protestors against the rise in fuel prices…
Soldiers entered a building in search of a journalist who had been on the roof taking photographs of the scenes below, but they did not find him. “The taking of photographs is not allowed,” declared one solider.
“This is our only option to make our feelings known and exercise our rights. What else can we do to make government listen?” said one of the protestors.
The price of petroleum for has risen by around 90%, while the price of gas has gone up to 400 YR a cylinder, an increase of almost 80%.
I’m very worried. There’s 20 deaths already and over a hundred injured.
Quoting other coverage: Mad Dog Vinnie: We need to stand up and support these people in their quest for freedom.
Willisms: These demonstrations are not about poverty itself, nor about gas prices. These demonstrations, targeted against Saleh’s rule, were nothing less than the early stages of revolution.
Don Surber: One victim was all of 12.
Searchlight Crusade references this LGF post. And Thanks Glenn.
Strata-sphere: The protestors have done what they needed to do at this moment – gain world wide attention. They are paying a price for these acts in lives and injuries. But they need to also make sure they can control the outcome towards a peaceful end.
Guardian: “Critics said that curbing general public expenditure, including military spending, would have been a more effective way of tackling the budget deficit.” (ed: oh yes, enough toys for Ali Mohsen already: Russian copters, arms from North Korea, if I recall correctly there’s a $400 million dollar deal with Russia for various weapons. The blackmarket Yemeni weapons pipeline is taking food out of the mouths of starving children. ) Loads and loads more about Yemen all over this blog.
additional coverage: (Read on …)