The first protests began Jan. 16 and were organized using social media and the university networks and included an overwhelming majority of youth protesters. By Jan. 20 these large protests had spread to Taizz where they protested to reject political reforms proposed by the government, including a limit on presidential terms, saying they did not go far enough. Then January 27 a large protest occurred in Sanaa calling for downfall of regime. Around 15,000 students and activists wearing pink ties on their heads formed a "human wall" at Sana'a University, which has become a hub for protests. By the end of January the protests had spread to Aden.
The initial protests were organized with the help of seasoned protest leaders such as Tawakul Karman, who had been leading protests since before 2011 and Ataif Alwazir, prominent opposition leader (to read more on them see section IV). A large portion of the protesters is comprised of youth and students, and a majority of all protesters belong to opposition parties, especially the Islamist Islah (Reform) Party and the JMP. In mid-February protests really began to escalate and took place in front of Sanaa University where students began to set up tents. It was in February that the JMP stepped up their presence at these protests with the youth. The large protests then began to include students, Salfists, Houthis, Islamists, JMP members, and Socialists.
At the beginning of the protests the protesters gathered together regardless of race, tribe or gender. However, now we are starting to see the southern factions (the mostly liberal and left-leaning Yemenis of the south, reducing their presence in protests that are influenced by Islamists and army commanders, claiming that those traditional forces are hijacking their revolution and delaying the victory. Additionally, we are beginning to see a disconnect between JMP and youth protesters. JMP has met with the government to try to broker a deal and the traditional/official opposition, including JMP, accepted the GCC plan April 27, but the youth protesters in the streets did not and the youth are vehemently against Saleh and all for his removal.
In terms of the government crackdown, their most frequent MO is firing live ammunition into the crowds in addition to the use of tear gas. These methods have been used since the beginning of the protests and became more intense in February. Casualties have been the heaviest in Aden and were also heavy in Ta’izz. Pro-Saleh supporters, who are reportedly paid or provided with food, water or qad by the government. are also responsible for casualties against anti-govt. demonstrators.
How protests are organized
Social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, have organized protests. However, unlike Syria there is not one large Facebook page that is used to coordinate or report on events. The security apparatus in Yemen is much weaker compared to Syria and thus Internet and cell phone use is not heavily monitored. Because of that protesters can call and use text messages to spread the word about protests and can even call Western reporters to report on protests in Yemen.
According to Tawakul Karman, “We are using the same methods and the same words from the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. They taught us how to become organized." They also taught the Yemenis the power of social media. Facebook and Twitter posts have called thousands more to the streets, as have a more old-fashioned medium: xeroxed flyers rolled out at Sana'a University. Positive coverage from satellite channels like al-Jazeera and al-Hurra have helped, both by encouraging Yemenis to protest and exposing them to the support of the outside world.”
According to Ataif Alwazir, in many major cities there are "sit-in" sites that have turned into "mini cities" for the protesters. The areas have tents, vendors, and seminars. People are camped there and have been there for three months. So decisions to march are spread via the stage at the sit-in site, and mainly via SMS and Facebook.
Between cities, protesters are trying to coordinate using phone calls, Facebook, and SMS messages. For example deciding what to name a Friday (every Friday has a name) many groups chat to discuss it from different cities to try to unify the name nationwide. Sometimes one city decides and others follow.
Only 2% of the population has Internet access, but the majority of young activists find ways to get online. There are many Yemeni FB groups, discussing the revolution, organizing, and suggesting ideas. These groups all have around 1000 members - not many compared to the number of people in the street, but many of them are leaders and activists who then disseminate the information. There are different groups - one is called the group for coordination, where people can share ideas on how to run things and what to do next. One is for creating and finalizing the "youth demands" document (now that it's finalized group is not as active). One is a women's revolutionary group talking about women's issues (the role of women in the revolution, and how to guarantee women's rights post revolution), then others are groups associated with specific movements or youth coalitions discussing activities related to them at specific city squares.
Organizations/Councils National Council – This has several different names and has been talked about since July.
Formed Aug 17 Yemeni opposition groups and protest leaders have formed a national council on Wednesday to step up pressure on Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh to relinquish power. Salem Mohammed Bassindwa, a top opposition figure, says youth groups and political parties named 143 council members to represent the people, a rare show of unity. "This is a revolutionary council aimed at toppling the rule of the (Saleh) family and the remnants of this regime," Bassindwa said. He clarified that it is "not an alternative to the government."
The council members will elect a president and an executive body. It will also form "popular committees" in Yemeni cities, to be in charge of "protecting citizens' properties and state institutions" at time of crisis and street clashes, he said.
Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) organized the Aug 17 meeting to form the National Ruling Council. The council consists of 1,000 representatives from all opposition forces," the president of the National Dialogue Committee of the opposition coalition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), Mohammed Basindwah, told reporters in a meeting in Sanaa.
23 opposition leaders from Yemen's southern regions announced their withdrawal from the anti- government body in a statement late August 19. "We were surprised that our names were included in the list of National Council without acknowledging us," said the joint statement by the 23 leaders, including former president Ali Nasser Mohamed, former prime minister Haidar Abu Bakr al-Attas and head of Islamic Islah (reform) party in the southeastern province of Hadramout. The 23 leaders said they refused to join the council because it lacks of balance between members from southern and northern provinces.
Joint Meeting Parties (JMP)- an opposition coalition that once was part of Saleh's government. JMP consisted of 5 political parties: the Islah (largest Islamist party, northern-based, tribal), Socialist Party (secular), Nasserite Union Organization, and al-Haqq parties, and the FPF (Federation for Popular Forces). JMP participated in the unfair and fixed elections in 2006. This is considered the country’s largest Islamist party. JMP was formed in 2002 by the 5 opposition parties to effect political and economic reform. The spokesperson used to be Mohammed al-Sabri, but it is now Muhammad Qahtan as of March 23, 2011.
The Revolution of Independent Youths says they "equally accuse GPC and JMP of corruption." The youth group wants anti-government protests to remain a "march of the people without leaders and middle-persons from the ruling and opposition groups."
Yemen Observatory for Human Rights – Has been quoted by news sources in order to get a gauge of how many people died. They announced at a press conference Saturday (July 16th) in Change Square in Sanaa, that it was forming a 17-member transitional presidential council. Opposition leaders said the transitional council would assume leadership for no longer than nine months after its first meeting.
Organizing Committee of the Youth Revolution – Names the protests and calls for demonstrations (June 25) The Organizing Committee is associated with the JMP and Islah in particular, and the First Armored Division of Ali Mohsen.
Salafists - Other protesters include fundamentalist groups of Salafis who are participating in anti-Saleh protests and since early Feb. have stated they want to see their own vision of post-Saleh Yemen. The Salafis are trying to unite the more than 400 groups with different visions, most of them inspired by the Islamist Islah Party.
One of the Salafi leaders said it would be a violation of Islam if the new rule in Yemen after President Saleh continued to fight Al-Qaeda. Salafi cleric Abdel-Majid Al-Raimi criticised opposition statements that the new regime would be "a real partner to the US and the Western world in combating terrorism and Al-Qaeda".
Al-Raimi, who runs a Salafi school in the capital Sanaa, strongly criticised Islah, which leads the anti-Saleh protests in the country, for demanding the ouster of Saleh instead of demanding Sharia law. "If Islah demand Sharia, the regime might agree and the problem will be solved," he said.
The Popular Forces Union Party – active in 2007 and was accused by the govt. of forged some of the names of its political candidates in lists presented to the committee. The sources also claim that the foundation and platform of the Popular Forces Union Party is biased in favor of Zaidis, as most of the party members are Zaidi. Opposition party. The Popular Forces Union Party, according to its website, is a political organization based on the political union of members from all segments of Yemeni society, without discrimination on the basis of sectarianism, whether tribal or regional, for one goal is to build a free nation based on the principles of Islam in justice, equality, freedom and respect for human rights.Dr. Mohammed Abdel-Malik al-Mutawakil, Deputy Secretary-General of the Union of Popular Forces, said that the GPC itself runs large campaigns of hatred, racism and sectarianism among the Yemeni people, and fabricating crises is the easiest way to control people.
“The party of the Popular Forces Union Party submitted lists of allegedly forged names nine years ago, and the party was formally recognized in the 60s, and it was the head of the media unit of the GPC who submitted the names himself,” he said.“It is the party of the Popular Forces Union Party that contributed to the celebration of Yemen unity and the party that contributed to the industry of unity. It also sacrificed all it has for the establishment of the unification of Yemen,” al-Mutawakil said.He believes his party is being targeted for the political stands it has taken on certain issues, and because its newspaper has exposed corruption and corrupt people in the government.
“I believe that they maybe, possibly are trying to dissolve the party because the power is operating outside the law.”The sources in the Committee for Parties and Political Organizations also said that the Yemeni Socialist Party faces dissolution because of the harm done by this party to national unity in the summer of 1994, and in its current position, which supports the terrorist elements that triggered the sedition in Sa’ada.
Yemeni Socialist Party – active in 2007, opposition party. Dr. Yasin Sa’eed Noaman, Secretary-General and Noaman said that if the government wanted to engage in modern political life, it should bury that bankrupt culture in a nearby landfill, and look for a place for it so as not to cause further disaster for the country as it always does.
Coordinating Council of the Youth Revolution of Change - The Official Page of the Statements and News about the Coordinating Council for the Youth Revolution of Change, which is formed of (5) of committees that has members from movements groups, tribes groups, governorates coordinators. The page is reposible for CCYRC's news and official statements. This page is where people can share ideas on how to run things and what to do next. They are also involved in naming the revolutions. Videos of protests are also posted on this Facebook and post daily update reports. Aaraq Azzani عارق العزاني is a member of the Advisory Committee. This group also coordinates naming protests the same name between Syria and Yemen and has many links to the facebook page Syrian Revolution 2011. This page has also called for protests on specific days but the location of the protests are not specified.
Opposition leaders/protesters Houriya Mashour - The Official Spokesperson for the “National Council for the Revolutionary Forces in Yemen.” She is the former deputy director of the Women's National Commission. She stated that the opposition has already signed and approved the GCC’s plan in August.
Mohammed Abdel-Malik al-Mutawakil –
An opposition leader, said the president came back to Yemen during intensifying clashes because “he knows that his son and nephews aren’t ready to solve” the conflict. He was also a political scientist at San'a University. In 2007 Mutawakkil was the assistant secretary-general of Yemen’s Federation for Popular Forces (FPF). He wants Saleh to transfer power and met with Hadi in his home June 14 and stated that the coalition “now wants to establish a link between them and us.” For months, the opposition coalition had refused to meet directly with the governing party, but Mr. Saleh’s departure has evidently caused a change in its stance. In Feb. 2009 the ruling party wanted negotiations but the Joint meeting parties JMP wanted dialogue, stating the difference between negotiation and dialogue. According to Al-Mutawakkil, negotiation is controlled by the imbalance of power in favor of the ruling party, whereas dialogue requires upgrading the absolute interest of the state. Feb. 2, 2011 he said “Saleh’s call for dialogue is one thing but the demonstrations are something else. The opposition will take to the streets tomorrow with the people no matter what.”
He is not an Islamist extremist. Mutawakil, former chairman of the Islamist-led opposition coalition, asked the opposition leaders, especially the Islamists, to stop beating up women who march with men. Al-Mutawakil said he would boycott all meetings of the opposition until the leaders publicly apologize to women who have been harassed, and stop such a barbaric behavior.
Atiaf Alwazir, a 31-year-old blogger from Sanaa. Quoted often and a Yeman-American who went to live in Yemen 2 years ago. Part of the Network of Yemeni Scholars (NYS) with a Master's of Arts in International Affairs from The American University, Washington, D.C., U.S.A. She was working at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in the Middle East and North Africa division and is a member of the American Association of Yemeni Scientists and Professionals (AAYSP). She has been present in many protests since February.
Atiaf was born in Sana but left when she was 1 years old. Her family lived in various places before settling in the U.S., and she recently returned to Yemen in order to get involved in the pro-democracy and human rights activism there. She runs the blog Woman From Yemen. (May 19, 2011)
Q: If Saleh were to give in to youth protesters' demands tomorrow, what would you want to happen? Who would lead?
A: The demands are quite extensive and detailed - it includes the fact that a transitional government should lead the country. and they should not be part of the former regime. and that later fair elections should be held after electoral commission is changed & electoral law amended. This was signed by over 150 groups and coalitions in the squares around the country
Q: Have youth activists learned from the lessons of Tunisians and Egyptians when it comes to planning for the transition?
A: We here are watching that closely...and I think because we have more time here, on the one hand it's taking too long, but on the other hand it's giving people the time to network and organize more than in Cairo and Tunis. It's clear to many of us, that the revolution is ongoing even after Saleh leaves the post-revolution will be the longer and harder struggle
That's why in some of the group's mission it says that they will be working during and after the revolution, in order to protect the revoultion from being hijacked...and to make sure that demands are met.
Abdullah Obal, an opposition leader, said international pressure appears to be the best way to push Saleh to step down and stop the fighting. We can't move a single step ahead without dissolving the armed forces. Said Sept. 25 that international pressure appears to be the best way to push Saleh to step down and stop the fighting. But he said a major obstacle to any resolution and end to the violence was the control of Saleh's family — particularly his son Ahmed and several nephews — over much of the armed forces.
Obal said he believed Saleh "returned to run the war and drive the country into an all-out civil war," according to the Associated Press."The cannons are now speaking. Gunfire is doing all the talking,'' Obal said Sept. 24.
A member of the opposition said July 11 that a proposed amendment to the transition plan, presented by Hadi, has been rejected because it was seen as an attempt to bypass the proposal. Abdullah Obal said the proposed amendment extended the transition period beyond the originally suggested period of two months.
The proposal has been outright rejected by anti-government protesters who have staged massive demonstrations across the nation since February to force Saleh out of office
"We can't move a single step ahead without dissolving the armed forces, which will remain a sword threatening any resolution, because they only take orders from him," said Obal.
Mohammed al-Sabri -Opposition spokesman for JMP coalition, held Saleh directly responsible for the killings. He was the Nasserite Party leader at least in Oct. 27, 2008 (during his interview). Sabri said March 18 that “the opposition movement swiftly rejected Saleh’s offer to stay until January 2012. The coming hours would be “decisive.”
Feb. 2, 2011 he said, “These protests will exceed last weeks'. Thousands will be demonstrating in cities across Yemen calling for the president to go”.
Dr Mohammed al-Qubati, the director of a field hospital at the protest camp on a site the protesters have dubbed Change Square (in front of Sanaa university). (Quoted VERY often about who has been wounded/dead). He has stated that the right thing for Saleh to do is step down.
Tawakul Karman, the chairwoman of Women Journalists Without Chains, antigovernment protest in Sana'a, Feb. 10, 2011. She created Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC) in 2005 to promote human rights. Yemen's most active activist. Between weekly protests in front of Sana'a University, the chairwoman of Women Journalists Without Chains, an organization that defends human rights and freedom of expression, including the freedom to protest, can often be found trying to get other protesters out of jail. She’s been in jail several times and does not believe in matching force with force. She is a 32 year old mother of 3. 'The people want the regime to fall.'
I helped the students in organizing sit-ins after the Tunisian revolt," Tawakul Karman, a Yemeni activist recently released from jail after organizing demonstrations, told The Times. "There have been daily protests in Sana. I was arrested for a day because of the demonstrations and let out yesterday. The student protests will for sure continue." She is also a leading member of Islah and stated that they do not accept the GCC proposal (April)
She is the leader of the protest every Tuesday on “Freedom Square” in Sana’a (May 17, 2010). She advocates for change on many fronts, and takes up the defense in support of almost every cause. Although she is very much visible in the internal arena through her work, her recognition came from abroad as she was awarded the International Woman of Courage in March 2010. She is one of only 13 women members on the Shura Council of the Islah opposition party. She is a journalist, an activist, a freedom fighter. Since May 2007, Tawakul Karman has been leading demonstrations and sit-ins in front of the cabinet to defend human rights. In Yemen’s male dominated conservative society, women do not have much presence in the public sphere. http://www.yementimes.com/defaultdet.aspx?SUB_ID=34255
Mohamed Salem Bassandawa – He was a former foreign minister. He was the President of the National Dialogue Preparatory Committee & on the original list for the transitional council members in July. July 31, 2010 He was the head of the bipartisan and inclusive National Dialog Committee withdrew from the National Dialog announced by the ruling GPC and opposition JMP where each submitted a list of 100 representatives. “As it was, and I am no longer willing to participate to any meeting, in my personal capacity and as Chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the national dialogue, however, I will invite always down to the Conference of a comprehensive national dialogue that does not exclude it one that put it all the crises and problems suffer under the brunt of our people and our country. ” http://goo.gl/4c0Qq
He went with Abdelwahab al-Ansi of the Islamist Al-Islah party to travel to Riyadh. Yemeni oppostion leaders Mohammed Salem Bassandawa (C) and Yassin Said Noman (2nd-R) walk in front of Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal (L) as he chats with Yemen's Nasseriate party leader Sultan Atwani (rear 2nd-L) on their way to attend a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) foreign ministers' extraordinary meeting in Riyadh on April 17, 2011 to discuss the unrest in Yemen. http://oneclick.indiatimes.com/photo/0a7R4Ra1rv64y
However Sept. 13 he declares the end of the political solutions, and the trend towards revolutionary escalation. He said during a conference in the Change Square that the Gulf initiative has become dead and no longer valid for work only if President Saleh stepped down from power immediately and canceled the guarantees item contained in the Gulf initiative.
Yassin Saeed Norman – Head of the opposition Common Forum who said "We will meet with the Gulf Cooperation Council ministers in Riyadh to ask for clarification on their initiative, especially on the departure of President Saleh” (Apr. 17).
Mohammed Abdul-Malik al-Mutawakkil - member of the Supreme Council of the JMP & on the original list for the transitional council members in July.
Aidarous al-Naqeeb - head of the Socialist Party bloc in parliament & on the original list for the transitional council members in July.
Sakhr al-Wajih -Vice-president of the National Dialogue Preparatory Committee & on the original list for the transitional council members in July.
Magid al-Madhaji, a protest leader and rights activist in the South who says that (renegade soldiers) gave forces loyal to Saleh an excuse to hit us hard and, at the end, we lost those new positions," said al-Madhaji, the protest leader. "We paid a very high price for the mistakes of the 1st Armored Division," he said, alluding to al-Ahmar's elite unit which boasts about 20,000 men in Sanaa alone
Sultan al-Atawani, a JMP leader, "The JMP is studying the preparatory committee's Transitional Council formation (july) initiative and needs to develop the concept until a national consensus is reached among [protesters] in the squares and the opposition, at home and abroad."
Fahd al-Muneifi, a member of the Organising Committee of the Youth Revolution, told Al-Shorfa, "The formation of a transitional council by one of the blocs is a good gesture, and it is being considered. It must have the consent of all revolutionary blocs in Change Square in Sanaa and in freedom squares in all provinces as well as the support of our political partners," referring to the JMP opposition bloc. (July) However, after the formation Twelve revolutionary youth coalitions in Change Square in Sanaa announced in a joint statement July 17 their rejection of the transitional presidential council. The coalitions said the council does not represent all elements of the revolution.
Salafi cleric Abdel-Majid Al-Raimi -criticised opposition statements that the new regime would be "a real partner to the US and the Western world in combating terrorism and Al-Qaeda.” Al-Raimi, who runs a Salafi school in the capital Sanaa, strongly criticised Islah, which leads the anti-Saleh protests in the country, for demanding the ouster of Saleh instead of demanding Sharia law. "If Islah demand Sharia, the regime might agree and the problem will be solved," he said.
Ali Mohammed Omar, a Salafist who runs an anti-secessionist movement in Aden, warns the regime cannot fight al-Qaida and the other two fronts at once. "If the government opens a war on al-Qaida, that's three (fronts), and the Yemeni army might collapse," he told AP (Jan 9, 2010)
Ali Al-Emad - A Houthi leader who now lives under the protection of the defected 1st Armored Division in Change Square, the same soldiers that besieged Saada for over five years.
Nader al-Qershi, a youth protest leader, who said that he and a small group of friends fled inside the gates of Sana’s Old University to escape the fighting (Sept.)
Adel Abdu Arrabyee, a leading protester who discounted the GCC plan and stated that "We'll continue our peaceful revolution until our goals are achieved. We do not care about these deals of the opposition parties." (April)
Abbas al-Assal, (don’t know if he is an opposition leader) but he is a member of the main southern secessionist movement Al-Harak. He said, "This regime has turned the south into a trash bin. The manner of the regime in the south is one of colonialism and occupation."
Abdel-Ghani al-Shimiri, a spokesman for the soldiers of 1st Armoured Division. Said Sept. 24, that mortars are raining down on the headquarters of the 1st Armored Division, led by Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar who backs the opposition’s demands for Saleh’s ouster. He says the shelling has also wounded 112 pro-opposition soldiers.
Al-Shimiri says government forces are also moving to clear the opposition encampment on Change Square, which has been the epicenter of Yemen’s uprising. He says street battles are raging Saturday between rival groups of the military.
Samir al-Mukhlafi, a protest leader. Present at Sanaa’s Change Square Sept. 24.
Manea al-Matari, a protest organiser camped in the square (Sept 20) – change square. told Reuters by phone about the protest happenings.
Abdul-Hadi al-Azzai, protest leader calling for end of Saleh rule.
Protesters Adel al-Suraby, a student protest leader. Men in civilian clothes reacted by throwing stones at the protesters, Mr. Suraby said
Hassan Wadah, a news cameraman was in a coma after he was shot in the face, according to witnesses.
Abdul Habib al-Qadasy, 47, an engineer who was at the protest in Taiz.
Shaif al-Jabri - a dark-skinned tribesmen from northern Yemen, and protester present at protests.
Abulqawy Noman, a professor of chemistry at Sana'a University
Abdel-Qawi al-Shemmari, said that two medics were shot to death while trying to rescue the injured. The head of doctors' syndicate, Abdel-Qawi al-Shemmari, said that two medics were shot to death while trying to rescue the injured.
Jamal Anaam, a 40-year-old activist camping out in the protest site.
Bushra al-Maqtari, an activist in Taiz says one person was killed Apr. 4, apr 8, june 3
Abdul-Ghani Soliman, protester, said he was not surprised by the violence. “I actually expect more than this, because freedom requires martyrs,” said Mr. Soliman, an unemployed tribesman from outside Sana.
Ahmed Arman, a human rights lawyer in the capital, Sana. "There were four demonstrations and they were organized by the opposition. The majority of the demonstrators were young people, but there were others there as well. They're calling for political change, a complete reform of the political system."