Is Yemen Next?

February 14, 2011

By Alireza Azizi, Yemen Country Specialist

A Yemeni man holds up a loaf of bread and a sign that reads "Who is next?" in Arabic, during a protest in Sanaa on February 13, 2011. (MOHAMMAD HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

The world media is consumed by the events in Egypt and there is little coverage of the protests in Yemen. Inspired by the uprising in Egypt and the stepping down of Hosni Mubarak, Yemeni people continue with their anti-government demonstrations. According to Aljazeera and other news reports on Saturday’s demonstration, people were chanting “After Mubarak, it’s Ali’s turn” and “A Yemeni revolution after the Egyptian revolution.”

On Saturday protesters started from Sana’a University toward Tahrir square. Near the square the peaceful demonstrators encountered pro-government demonstrators and plain clothes security forces who had gathered in the square since early morning.  The encounter resulted injuries and some arrests. The violence continued on Sunday in Sana’a and several other cities in Yemen.

A number of people were arrested following the Friday and Saturday anti-government demonstrations. In an unconfirmed report Khaled al Anesi, the lawyer and human rights activist, was arrested but was released after an hour.

On Sunday in a news conference, Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), a coalition of opposition parties, welcomed the street protests, but warned against possible escalation of violence.

President Ali Saleh who is an important ally of the US in the fight against Al-Qaeda has in recent weeks announced raising army salaries, reducing income taxes, ordering price control and not seeking re-election when his term ends in 2013. However these measures seem to have been ineffective in satisfying the protestors and young people in particular.

It is the responsibility of the Yemeni government to protect the demonstrators and allow peaceful assembly.

The Yemeni authorities must release all the people who have been detained as a result of their participation in peaceful demonstrations.

Learn more about human rights in Yemen at Amnesty’s Yemen country page.