Celebrations ended… problems still persisting [Archives:2007/1077/Opinion]

August 16 2007

By: Ali Al-Sarari
Is it necessary to celebrate the 29th anniversary of President Ali Abdullah's Saleh's stay in power as he assumed throne of North Yemen on July 17, 1978? This year's celebrations on July 17 were unusual. They were the greatest and the nosiest from among all the national and religious celebrations so far held in Yemen. Similarly, the official media devoted much of its programs to speeches, addresses and poems praising Mr. President and his regime.

The echo of Yemen's celebrations on the occasion reached the worst Arabic Language satellite channel, run by a Tunisian national, who is professional in flattering. Except for this notorious channel, no space television channel, be it Arab or international, said something about the July 17th anniversary being celebrated in Yemen.

Anyway, such celebrations don't justify any allegations that they drew the attention of those interested in the Yemeni affairs. They raised negative questions about the real motives behind their organization in such an exaggerated way. It appeals to the minds of judicious people that motives behind staging the celebrations are merely meant to cover the persisting crises and problems, which the country is going through. In addition, these crises and problems increase citizens' sufferings and exacerbate their living standards.

The worst one from among the celebrations was the morning cultural activity, during which spokesman of the Yemeni Interior Ministry declared that the Ministry of Information staged the activity in front of the Cabinet, where civil community organizations were holding a sit-in. The sit-in was protesting the violations exercised against journalists and press freedom in Yemen.

The Interior Ministry's spokesman called the place, where the cultural activity and the sit-in were staged at a time, the Square of Democracy while protesters gave it the name ' Square of Liberty'.

The curious thing in the cultural activity, held by the Ministry of Information, is that participants came with jambias glittering in their hands and some of them brought their personal pistols with them. They attacked and beat protesters and destroyed the seats, which protesters were sitting on. They tore down the slogans, which protesters were raising and caused various injuries among them. The educated people gathered by the Ministry of Information haven't killed any one of the protestors, who were assembling in the same manner for two consecutive days.

This kind of celebration lacks all the meanings of judiciousness and reasonability. Only lies and hypocrisy prevail the general atmosphere in the country, and disgust and disappoint people. I never believe that Mr. President, who is known for his shrewdness and cleverness, knows nothing about such facts. I believe that Mr. President is enraged by those who fabricate facts and tell lies, and therefore reprimands and insults them. He hates all those who save no effort in exercising hypocrisy and telling lies.

As far as I am concerned, Mr. President needs to listen to the other kind of voices and then makes a distinction between what is authentic and what is machinated for deception. He is more able to examine seriousness of these voices, as well as their content.

What is mostly remarkable in this year's celebrations of July 17 is that they tried to show a negative response to the public rage, which is the result of real political crises and the poor living standards experienced by the majority of Yemen's population. Frankly speaking, such behaviors originate from a wrong hypothesis, which is based on the belief that the Yemeni people are stupid and lack the sense of differentiating between what is working well and what is not. According to this belief, the Yemeni people can be easily neglected and their feelings as well as attentions are possible to be drawn away from realizing the real problems facing them.

This country's regime is misfortunate because its own mechanism of propaganda uses an ancient system that never cares for people and their daily issues. Instead it scorns people and inflames their feelings. Such an outdated system doesn't care for teaching people how to have more patience in the face of adversity. It only triggers people's negative reactions to trivial matters.

From the political viewpoint, the negative effects of these celebrations prove that Yemen hasn't yet obtained real democracy, particularly as we see that the countries of monarchical regimes have nothing of these celebrations. They don't care for marking the first day of their monarch's assuming power. What they do is celebrate the national days of their independence or unity. Remorsefully, this year's July 17 celebrations took place at a time the Yemeni people were suffering very difficult political, economic, and social conditions. Yemen should have taken a lesson from what happened to the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his regime.

Ali Al-Sarari is a Yemeni Journalist and a well-known politician. He is the head of the information department at the Yemeni Socialist Party.

Source: Al-Nass Independent Weekly.