Sit-ins and protests escalate, protestors demand reform [Archives:2008/1117/Front Page]

December 3 2008

By: Mohammed Bin Sallam
DHALE', Jan. 2 ) Hundreds of protestors gathered Sunday in front of government premises in Al-Dhale' to demonstrate against illegally distributed jobs, a violation of employment policies adopted by the Ministry of Civil Service.

They also protested against favoritism practiced by office directors in the governorates, who employ their own sons and daughters, not yet high school graduates, while university students are deprived of positions.

The demonstrators chanted slogans against the secretary general of the local council and rampant corruption, describing corrupt individuals as “job thieves.”

Banners were also carried by protestors, demanded withdrawing trust in the secretary general, administrative staff, educational directors and civil service officers in the governorate. They further demanded the fulfillment of the president's electoral pledges, specifically the thorough eradication of unemployment by 2008, and opening doors for Al-Dhale's citizens to enroll in military and security colleges.

At the end of the protest, a statement released by the demonstrators called on all civil and political groups and personalities to participate in the Million-person reconciliation and tolerance rally which will be held on Jan 13 in the province of Aden.

The statement also recounted protestors' demands for jobs allotted to Al-Dhale' locals and for the government to cancel those distributed to outsiders.

They further demanded an end to what they deemed a war generated by the authority against locals both within and outside the governorate.

The spokesman of the “Middle Areas Locals” called on the General People Congress (GPC) last Monday to bring justice to those people disadvantaged due to conflicts that took place in their areas, and to grant them all rights and compensations, as well as remove the effects of armed political conflict between the republic in northern Yemen and southern Yemen's National Democratic Front during the 1970s and 80s.

Among their demands, distributed to various media outlets, they said, “We don't want to be dragged into side disputes, but we confirm that the meeting of Middle Areas Locals is a social nonpartisan and solidarity meeting, operating to meet the rights of disadvantaged, dislocated and forcibly retired people without bias to any party.

Their meeting, announced Dec. 23, was not to discriminate between areas, indicating that Al-Dhale' governorate was an arena for political and military conflict with the ruling regime in the northern part of Yemen.

Official GPC media and other state-funded outlets responded to the leaders of the meeting and those associated with them, such as disabled veterans, with threats of death and torture.

Naba News website, which is funded by the ruling party, also clearly threatened those in charge of the forum by claiming, “the forum incites middle area locals to kill and torture” its leaders.

The ruling party claims that it wasn't responsible for the armed conflict that took place in Yemen's central areas, though, according to a socialist leader, participants affiliated with the GPC used state resources and firearms to badly defeat the other side, as well as those suspected of instigating the conflict.

Yemeni teacher protest in India

In a related issue, a group of Aden University teachers who were sent to India to obtain their Master and PhD degrees decided to march in a demonstration into the cultural attache precinct in the Indian capital city of New Delhi to directly negotiate with Yemen's cultural attache to reach a final settlement to financial problems which have worsened their families' living standards and academic performance.

The teachers demanded the timely payment of their study fees and periodic aid, and stipends to cover price hikes and the rising value of the rupee. They agreed to escalate all forms of expressing their demands, using any lawful means to voice the injustice they are suffering from, as well as ensuring accessibility of their voice to the appropriate parties in India and those that sent them to India.

The Aden University teachers who studied in India will start gathering from all the Indian states to India's capital, New Delhi, beginning mid-January.

Jarallah commemoration rally in Damt

On Thursday, thousands of Damt and neighboring area locals commemorated in a popular rally the fifth anniversary of the death of Jarallah Omar, former secretary general of the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP). He was assassinated on Dec. 28, 2002, while delivering a speech in the opening session of the Third Conference of the Yemeni Congregation for Reform.

The rally, staged in Qutaiba Complex in Damt, was attended by tens of prominent leaders in the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), of whom former JMP presidential candidate Faisal Bin Shamlan, YSP Secretary General Dr. Yaseen Sa'eed No'man, JMP chairman Ali Saleh Obad were present, as well as JMP leaders from Aden, Hadramout, Dhale', Ibb, Taiz, Amran and Dhamar.

Ali Saleh Obad delivered a speech in which he said that the sit-in movement in the southern governorates is a historic event, aiming at preserving unity and regaining national and democratic ideals. He added that the protests aim at restoring law, fighting corruption and strengthening the bonds of brotherhood between Yemenis, referring to restoring the May 22 unity and the removal of political, social and psychological impacts ensued by the 1994 war.

In turn, Mohammed Kahtan, an Islah party leader, said that what is happening in the southern governorates of Yemen is a popular motion to try the killers of Jarallah Omar. He claimed that “the killers wanted to eliminate the JMP, but instead the JMP has become stronger than it was. The authority is the source of secession due to practices of looting lands and dismissing qualified partners. If we don't move to stop such practices, we will lose unity and the republic.”

Bin Shamlan, greeted with applause, stated, “those who thought that Jarallah Omar is dead, have to look at such sit-ins and protests occurring in most of the governorates where they all call for equal citizenship.” He added, “If the ruling party wants a unified country, equal citizenship must be established. This struggle will continue until this citizenship is met for the sake of this country and its future generations.”

Bassam, Jarallah's youngest son, thanked all the attendees and organizers of the rally, considering it a suitable response for the killers behavior. He addressed the audience by proclaiming, “we request that you stand by us and demand a new case file to be opened to reveal the truth and discover the perpetrators.”

A number of speeches were delivered by JMP chairmen from Dhale', Hadramout and Damt. Tawakul Kurman, chairwoman of Women Journalists without Chains, delivered a speech on behalf of civil society organizations, demanding to bring in an international committee to investigate the assassination of the late Jarallah. The perpetrators will stand before international justice because trust in the Yemeni judiciary has been lost, according to Kurman.

She further declared that the JMP should spearhead a peaceful uprising with its backers, acting on Jarallah's saying: “peaceful struggle through sacrifice.”

Jarallah initiated his peaceful struggle from Damt district, which faithfully commemorated the anniversary of his death.