Million Yemeni Join the Protest to ouster President Ali Abdullah Saleh

JNN 09 Mar 2011 Sana : About one million people have staged a protest in southern Yemen, as forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh have killed a boy and injured several others.

The 12-year-old Omar Atta died in hospital in Yemen’s southern province of Ibb on Monday night after sustaining a gunshot injury, Reuters reported.

The incident occurred after Saleh loyalists stormed an anti-government protest camp, also wounding around 60 people in the attack.

Almost one million protesters marched through the streets of Ibb on Tuesday to condemn the attack.

“My son sacrificed himself, this is my family’s gift to the revolution in Yemen,” Omar’s father said in a tearful speech to protesters in Ibb on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, heavy security forces and armored vehicles were deployed across the capital to guard the Sana’a University, which has been the epicenter of anti-government protests for the last two weeks.

Tanks were stationed in main streets leading to the presidential palace, while armored vehicles were deployed to guard foreign embassies, banks and governmental compounds.

On Tuesday, large numbers of security forces were also deployed in nearly all major cities rocked by protests, especially in the southern provinces, where anti-government sentiments have been on the rise.

On Monday, President Saleh called for a national-dialogue conference in an attempt to end the impasse with the opposition, which was rejected by the opposition’s rotating President Yaseen Saeed Noman.

Dozens of people have been killed and hundreds more have been injured in the Yemeni government’s violent crackdown on anti-regime protests.

Tens of thousands of the Shia Muslims based in the northern Yemen have repeated their protests against the government, braving prospects of government-ordered bloodshed.

The demonstrators took to the streets of several cities including Sa’ada, the capital city of a northern province of the same name, where the faith group is concentrated.

The minority, which has recently joined nationwide anti-government demonstrations, has for long complained about efforts by the Yemeni leadership and neighboring Saudi Arabia to socially, economically, and religiously marginalize the community.

The Shias have been subjected to numerous Sana’a-authorized armed offensives — many carried out by Saudi forces and some reportedly by the United States.

The protesters on Monday voiced solidarity with the outraged public, who have been demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime since January.

Saleh has already been in office for 33 years, with several opposition members arguing that his long-promised reforms have not materialized.

The country’s opposition and religious figures have envisioned a roadmap for the ruler’s departure before the end of this year.

The head of state has, however, said he would stay in power until the end of his term in 2013.

Dozens of people have been killed and hundreds more have been injured in Sana’a’s crackdown on anti-regime protests.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Houthi leader said that two protesters were killed and nine others were wounded during armed attacks by the government forces on the Shias’ rallies on Friday.

Yemeni police opened fire on protesters in the capital Sanaa on Tuesday, wounding at least 50 people demonstrating for an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 32-year rule, witnesses said.

Three of the wounded were in a serious condition, they said.

Policemen and security agents in civilian clothes opened fire as they tried to prevent people from joining thousands of protesters who have camped out for weeks in front of Sanaa University, the witnesses told Reuters.

There was no immediate government comment.

Police brought out water cannon and placed concrete blocks around Sanaa University, the rallying point for anti-Saleh protest that had been quiet in recent days, after weeks of fierce clashes across the country between government loyalists and protesters that killed at least 27 people.

Around 10,000 protesters marched in the city of Dhamar, 60 km (40 miles) south of Sanaa, residents said by telephone. Dhamar is known for ties to Saleh and is the hometown of Yemen’s prime minister, interior minister and head judge.

“Leave! leave!” the protesters shouted in Dhamar, just two days after Saleh loyalists there held a similar-sized rally. Protesters also pelted a municipal official with rocks.

Burgeoning protests fueled by anger over poverty and corruption, and a series of defections from Saleh’s political and tribal allies, have added pressure on him to step aside this year even as he pledges to stay on until his term ends in 2013.

“Across the board, what you’re seeing is that more and more people are really starting to crystallize around this single call for the president to step down,” Princeton University Yemen scholar Gregory Johnsen said.

Yemen, neighbor to oil giant Saudi Arabia, was teetering on the brink of failed statehood even before recent protests. Saleh has struggled to cement a truce with Shi’ite Muslim rebels in the north and curb secessionist rebellion in the south, all the while fighting al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing.


Analysts say protests may be reaching a point where it will be difficult for Saleh to cling to power.

In what could add to popular anger, two Yemeni rights groups said two prisoners had died after security forces on Monday used live ammunition and tear gas to halt a prison riot in Sanaa.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi blamed growing protests on poor economic conditions. Some 40 percent of Yemen’s 23 million people live on $2 a day or less and a third face chronic hunger.

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