Stories & Reflections
The revolution in Yemen began immediately after the fall of Ben Ali in Tunisia on 14 January. As I always do when arranging a demonstration I posted a message on Facebook, calling on people to celebrate the Tunisian uprising on 16 January.
We agreed that we could not let this historic moment pass us by, and that we too could spark a peaceful revolution to demand an end to a despotic regime.
After a week of protests I was detained by the security forces in the middle of the night. The pressure on the government was intense, and I was released after 36 hours in a women’s prison, where I was kept in chains.
After my release I continued to demonstrate .
Around the country, tents sprang up for vigils, copying Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Hundreds of thousands poured into these “squares of liberation and change”. With the inclusion of all sections of society, the revolution had outgrown the student movement.
In five years my country has witnessed six wars, but now the people’s guns are silent; they have chosen peaceful change. Despite the fact that hundreds of protesters have been killed by the regime, not one police officer or security agent has been killed by the masses.
When snipers killed more than 50 protesters and wounded 1,000 on the Friday of Dignity, it was the young who arrested the culprits; not one was attacked or injured, despite the anger and the blood that had flowed in the streets.
For the first time people in the south stopped calling for separation, raised the national flag and demanded an end to the regime. It’s been truly historic. The country is united in its aim to rid itself of the regime through public vigils and rallies, civil disobedience and slogans instead of tear gas and bullets.
This is a regime that carried out 33 years of rule through blood and corruption.
We cannot let the bogeyman of al-Qaida and extremism be used to stall historic change in our country; Saleh invokes this threat in an attempt to cling to power, as if he is the only one capable of bringing stability and tackling terrorism. It would be foolish to believe his lies. .
If the US and Europe genuinely support the people, as they say, they must not betray our peaceful revolution. It is the expression of the democratic will of the overwhelming majority of the people of Yemen.
Tawakkol Karman: This 32-year-old mother of three is an unlikely activist. But as the chair of Women Journalists Without Chains she has been protesting at Sana’a University, in the nation’s capital, every Tuesday since 2007. Her aim: to pressure Yemen’s President of 32 years, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to step down. Though she’s been arrested several times, she remains an advocate for peaceful change.(TIME magazine)
(excerpts from the article published today, April 9, in the Guardian)