Marib citizens lash out at government over corruption [Archives:2007/1105/Front Page]

November 22 2007

Mohammed Bin Sallam
MARIB, Nov. 21 ) Thousands of people from different social groups gathered in a huge sit-in in Marib city, 160 km east of Sana'a, claiming the government to carry out comprehensive reforms in the nation and fight rampant corruption. The protestors insisted on the authority to pull out troops from populated areas, oblige oil companies to specify particular benefits for the governorate, establish an oil college, reform the election mechanism, have voting centers distributed fairly, correct voters' registers, implement sanitation and road projects, provide illumination to streets of the city and release locals detained in security jails.

The protestors insisted on government to approve at least 10 percent of the returns from Marib's oil exports for development projects in the governorate such as providing its districts with electricity and drinking water, claiming that basic foodstuffs be priced like they were prior to last year's presidential elections.

The sit-in pressed the authority to compensate those suffering from environmental pollution, support farmers, reduce diesel prices, create more job opportunities for the idle youth in the governorate and give them priority to work for companies and contractors, as well as achieve 70 percent of public services in Marib districts.

The demonstrators stressed the necessity of giving the governorate its share of jobs in the military and civil institutions including senior positions in the government. They claimed their governorate's share of scholarships, urging the local authority to increase the number of social insurance beneficiaries under the supervision of a multi-district committee.

At the rally, attended by thousands of Marib locals, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Ahmad Al-Zaidi said people gathered in the huge rally to voice their concerns and sufferings. Giving a speech on the governorate locals' behalf, Al-Zaidi said, “Marib population suffered a lot despite their patriotic positions on different occasions. The government abandoned us, deprived us of basic services, raided our safe villages with armed forces and threw innocent citizens in prisons without any clear reasons.”

“Citizens in the governorate want to exercise their legal rights and nothing more,” he added, calling on all the political parties and organizations, and social personalities to back oppressed citizens while claiming their constitutional rights.

Al-Zaidi urged media personnel to play a vital role in publicizing concerns and sufferings of people in the eastern governorate, pointing out that the rally involved all the social and tribal groups in Marib. Concluding his speech, the tribal sheikh told his fellowmen, “No one can silence you and you have to continue struggling until the government meets your demands.”

The rally's statement, read out by Mabkhoot Al-Sharif, stressed that military servants should be neutral in the coming local and parliamentary elections particularly as they outnumber eligible voters in the governorate.

Participants at the rally emphasized the necessity of caring for teachers, increasing their salaries and improving their living standards, as well as providing schools with educational equipment, encouraging girls to continue their education, separate boys from girls in classrooms and prevent co-education in the different grades of schooling. The rally's statements urged military and security soldiers to back oppressed citizens while voicing their concerns.

In Abyan's Modya District, hundreds of citizens organized on Monday a public rally, attended by participants from Lahj and Al-Dhale' governorates, in order to press on the security authorities to release those detained during protests. Some activists in the governorate gave speeches at the rally, venting their anger at the government, which they described as 'bankrupt and unable to offer something new for Yemen and its people'. They accused the government of fueling seditions and revenge killings between citizens, demanding it to conduct serious reforms and stop creating new crises.

“We strongly condemn all the forms of crackdown against peaceful protests and sit-ins. We will no longer tolerate the authority's conduct, killing citizens, and arresting rights activists and media personnel, participants said in the concluding statement. “The government must interrogate and punish influential persons who violate citizens' rights and plunder their lands, and free those detained by police at the protest scenes, mainly BG Nasser Al-Nuba, Chairman of Retirees' Societies Coordination Council, and Hassan Ahmad Ba Aum.”

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According to the statement, the prevalent oppression is evidence of the government' failure and inability to play its role in the required way and do its duty in resolving the persisting problems, which citizens face. The government would rather combat corruption and punish corrupt individuals.

After the rally was over, the security forces arrested nearly 30 of the participants and threw them in prison. This procedure provoked rage among citizens in the governorate who then sent a note to the concerned authorities holding them accountable for any bad consequences.

In Abyan's Al-Mahfad District, many military soldiers staged a sit-in on Monday claiming the government to give them their salaries, which they say, have been withheld since 2002. The soldiers escalated their sit-in into a peaceful demonstration in the city's main street. They demanded the concerned agencies in the governorate to improve their living standards and release their withheld salaries without any illegal deductions, as well as give them arms like their colleagues in other governorates.

In Hodeida, 200 soldiers held a sit-in at the governorate premises for the fourth time in two weeks, claiming to be reinstated into their military and security institutions. Some of the protestors complained they were dismissed from their jobs in the army without any obvious reasons while others said their jobs were given to other people. The sit-in involved pensioners who claimed the government to review their payments and improve their living standards like it did for their counterparts in the southern and eastern governorates. They said that Hodeida governor promised to reinstate them into their institutions two weeks ago but such did not happen.

Many lawyers in Aden denounced the increasing human rights abuses. Staging a sit-in Sunday in front of the Appeal Court, they insisted on handing over the wanted policemen to the judicial authorities to be punished for what they committed against lawyers this week.

“Lawyers staged a sit-in after they could no longer tolerate arrogance of policemen, who usually violate the law and repeat assaults on lawyers,” Saleh Dhaiban, Secretary General of the Aden Branch of Yemeni Lawyers Syndicate ascertained. “This week the police attacked both lawyers Najeeb Al-Jehafi and Waleed Muharram without any legal justifications.”