Strugglers without a project [Archives:2008/1138/Opinion]

March 17 2008

Rahma Hugaira
Frustration and pessimism become prevalent while talking about Yemen's future despite the passage of 46 years since the 26 September Revolution against illiteracy and poverty broke out, as well as the passage of 18 years since the democratic project (unity) was established. This project is deteriorating from time to time, but the current question in the minds of Yemeni people that has different answers is that: “Why does this country progress backward despite the number of its strugglers multiply? Or at least, who are those saying they work for Yemen's sake?

In fact, I have no suspicion that there are numerous strugglers working hard in order for this country to prosper or develop, but the main problem is that such a struggle is practiced without a clear vision or project. Instead, it is a kind of struggle based on temporary personal ideas and expectations, which are related with particular events, and therefore vanish easily. Even in the documents of government, parties and institutions, nothing implies the presence of clear visions and projects.

The government's documents are merely slogans that appear and disappear, some of them are placed in effect while others are ignored due to the lack of seriousness in abiding by them, as well as their being not representing the values we believe in or in their design based on the country's interest irrespective of personal attitudes toward the government officials or agencies. This explains the sudden and complete change in our positions, writings and issues, and even what regards homeland.

We don't get surprised if we see unworkable solutions, mainly as the national crises and turmoil get more complicated until the extent of making us expect collapse and destructive turnovers in this country. I think that if rulers of this country had been satisfied with a shared project and abided by it, we would have seen results other than the standing ones.

Mr. President and his tenure might have at least led an effective government while Joint Meeting Parties and their supporters have created strong independent opposition institutions, which are more able to resist oppression and corruption. Journalism, on its part, did build huge institutions that may help reduce the increased harassments and violations against public freedoms and human rights. Eventually, all Yemeni people including journalists, rulers and ruled will become strong partners in building an economically and culturally strong country, but on condition the government must lift its restrictions on the press.

As development projects in this country lacks the required qualities and characteristics, any projects established nationwide turned to be merely personal or emotional that appear and disappear according to our feelings. In this regard, I have many examples of the presence of personal projects at the expense of the real ones needed by the homeland.

Had we but observed the projects, which Mr. President calls on opposition parties to hold dialogue on, we would have found out that they are nothing more than announced or secret meetings during which dialoguers exchange viewpoints about how to rescue Yemen from poverty and other calamities. In addition, any dialogue with opposition parties is not based on satisfaction with partnership for the sake of which the opposition has to work. Instead, such a dialogue comes as a new game via which Mr. President wants to display his shrewdness over opposition parties.

As soon as the dialogue comes to an end, nation leaders reach a consensus that the development project for this country is that of “Mr. President said nd Mr. President rejected” and nothing more. The persisting problem is that when Mr. President approves a joint project, supposed to be in favor of the nation, other people having nothing to do with such a project appear in the scene to deny or confirm any project-related information. Any ideas, reached during the series of meetings between the ruling party and opposition, turns to be aborted as soon as those concerned start applying them in real-life situation.

From the absence of Mr. President's project to the absence of projects of the opposition parties and civil community organizations. I still remember that during preparations for 2006 presidential elections, I met an active personality from the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) and told him that I am opposing the Joint Meeting Parties' political reform project for not including a clear vision with regard to women's political participation. He then responded, “We at YPS had a strong and broad vision in this regard, but this vision was rejected by our brothers in the Islah party.”

Unlike the glorious history of their party, the YSP leaders have ignored the significance of women's participation and empowerment so that they can practice their suffrage and other legal rights stipulated by the constitution. I don't know why they did so, thereby behaving in a way contradicting the essential objectives of their party.

Rahma Hugaira is co-founder and chairwoman of the Yemeni Female Media Forum, a nongovernmental organization that promotes women's rights and gender equality in the media throughout the Middle East. She is one of Yemen's most respected journalists and a steadfast proponent of women's rights. She could be reached at [email protected]

Source: Al-Wasat Weekly