Clashes take place in a military camp in Sana’a, Ministry of Defense denies [Archives:2007/1100/Local News]

November 5 2007

Saddam Al-Ashmouri
For Yemen Times

SANA'A, Oct. 4 ) M. Gen. Mohammed Nasser, Minister of Defense, denied information on news websites mentioning that protests took place in the reception camp in Dhala' area northwest of the capital city of Sana'a by military retirees due to money taken from their pensions.

In a statement to the September 26 Ministry of Defense website, the minister stated that a small number of reinstated retirees had aroused chaos while in the reception camp in Dhala'. They came to receive their pensions from an assigned committee. The retirees threw stones at the committee building.

He also pinpointed that some soldiers who did not attend for sessions, as well as those who were reinstated but not pensioners, as stated by the websites, intended to cause riots by throwing stones at their colleagues as well as committee members.

He went on to say that information indicating the reduction of the pensions for the reinstated retirees was baseless. “They received full pensions, including the second phase increase of salaries, regardless of whether they returned to the camp recently or are new. This came as an execution of the president's directives. We treated the reinstated soldiers very well, like their colleagues working in the armed forces,” the minister added.

The situation was completely contained and the process of paying pensions returned to normal on Saturday afternoon, he further maintained.

Some press sources exchanged news that a number of military retirees held a sit-in in front of the reception camp in Dhala' due to pension cuts.

The pensions paid to the pensioners range from YR 15,000 to 17,000, from which a thousand Yemeni riyals are deducted without any legal justification, according to the same sources.

The protesters demanded the return of pension cuts, affirming that they will continue marching in protest until their demands are met.

Well-informed sources told Yemen Times that a number of soldiers blocked the road connecting Sana'a and Al-Mahwit after they refused to receive a two month salary from the reception military camp located in Hamdan.

One of the pensioners revealed that the pensioners were surprised to discover that unpaid pensions since 1994 amount to only five thousand YR. They refused to take this amount of money. However, the committee members negotiated with them to give them eight thousand and then later increased the amount to 20 thousand, but the pensioners refused, demanding the committee members to go by the president's directives.

Not reaching a solution, the pensioners blocked the road between Sana'a and Al-Mahwit where minor clashes took place, resulting in the injuring of two people, one of whom is a pensioner and the other an ordinary resident. This incident did not affect the sit-in. The same source also indicated that local residents living near the military camp showed their solidarity with military retirees expressing their willingness to go with them and hold sit-ins in front of the Ministry of Defense.

The pensioners are still demanding the government to work on the decree issued to reinstate the military pensioners as well as to pay them their rightful pension.

The minor clash coincided with the sit-ins and protests held by military retirees in the southern governorates, who have demanded the increase of their pensions for five months. The recently held protests resulted in the deaths and injury of some, along with some citizens who participated in the protests.