2011-02-15 Yemen protests turn violent

Yemen protests started in mid January with a self immolation and the arrest and release of Yemeni activist Tawakel Karman, and they have not really stopped since. A Day of Rage was organized for February 3 but tens of thousands were in the streets on January 27 as well as many smaller protests, throughout the time period. The last five days have seen a huge increase in the numbers in the streets, as well as the violence directed at them. According toHuman Rights Watch, president Ali Abdallah Saleh’s security forces have attacked demonstrators, activists, lawyers, and journalists in Yemen capital city Sanaa without justification. An estimated 3000 people protested from Sana’a University, clashing with police and pro-Saleh demonstators using batons, rocks, and occasionally knives. Today in Taiz, over 2500 people are refusing to leave and are forming committees and buying tents to continue occupying their protests grounds.

The videos below show the current size and emotion of some of the protests.

January 27, 2011

February 14, 2011

February 15, 2011

February 15, 2011 in Taiz

What Al Jazeera keeps calling “huge concessions” given by president Saleh that he would not run again in 2013, may actually have just been an agreement already reached between Saleh and the US as indicated by a US state cable. They are, in any case, simply a repeat of promises made and broken in 2006 when instead of resigning he asked for an amendment to the constitution to allow him to be appointed for life. None of the “concessions” seem to be placating the protestors. The US, which contributed over $150 million in military aid to Yemen in 2010, announced yesterday, during the fourth day of vicious attacks on demonstrators by Saleh’s security forces, that they would be spending US$75 million to double the size of a “special Yemeni counter-terrorism unit”. This is in addition to US$120 million for Yemen in Obama’s 2012 budget request on Monday. In 2006, the US gave only US$5 million to Yemen and in 2009, US$67 million. The special relationship between Saleh and the US as depicted in the US state cables has been explored on WL Central herehere and here. Journalist Abdul Ilah Shayi who revealed the US military attack that killed 55 civilians is alsodiscussed along with Obama’s interference in his release.

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