Yemen: A Year of an Unfinished Revolution

This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.

Many expected bloodshed when the revolution first started in Yemen, since it is known to be the second most armed nation in the world, yet it amazingly turned out to be the least violent this so-called Arab Spring. Despite the regime's violence, protesters refrained from using their weapons and marched peacefully demanding their rights. They faced security forces excessive violence with bare chests.

A year has passed since the revolution started, yet Yemenis disagree on the exact day, as I pointed in my blog post:

Yemen's revolution is undoubtedly the longest in the Arab Spring, yet Yemenis disagree on which day it started. Some say it started on February 3rd, when a group of activists protested in front of Sanaa University, some say February 11th, when the first sit-in tents were erected in Taiz, and others say February 20th when the first martyrs were killed in Aden and Taiz. Yet, Yemen's revolution has been mostly associated with February 11th, the downfall of Egypt's Mubarak.

This video posted by SupportYemen on YouTube shows a group of activists expressing their hopes and highlighting the demands of the revolution:

Hundreds were killed and thousands were injured, yet those responsible for their killings were granted immunity as per the power transition deal, brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council and fully supported by the United States and the United Nations.

Protesters in Taiz lit the the flame on the eve of the revolution, on February 10, 2012, in Freedom Square, marking the beginning of the celebrations with chants and fireworks as shown in this video posted by taizpress:

Yemen's Revolution impressed the world with it's massive and powerful marches. Iona Craig, a freelance journalist who was been mostly in Yemen since the revolution started, tweeted a link in which she posted a selection of powerful images she had captured throughout the year, including some of the marches.

@ionacraig: Today marks one year since daily protests began in #Yemen. A selection of pictures I took from Feb. 2011 to Feb. 2012:

This video posted by KareemoS on May 21, shows the massive crowds rallying against Saleh and his regime, chanting “the people want to overthrow the regime” – a demand that has yet to be realized.

Huge celebrations were held in Taiz on February 11, on the occasion the first anniversary of Yemen's revolution. taizpress posts the following video on YouTube showing part of the celebrations:

Yemeni activist Baraa Shiban sums up the events in Yemen over the past year in his post in Comments MiddleEast. He concludes by saying:

The last days of December witnessed a parallel revolution that paralysed many governmental sectors and led to the resignation of some senior officials. It’s worth mentioning that the employee’s strikes are still continuing as the country forges its own mini revolutions, attempting to purge the remnants of Saleh's regime, and foremost, the last scraps of tyranny in Yemen.

Thousands of Yemenis have been protesting for a year

Thousands of Yemenis have been protesting for a year. Photograph by Iona Craig from Flickr, used with permission.

Meanwhile, Yemen faces many challenges. A year of revolt has resulted in the loss of many lives, created an economic and humanitarian crisis due to a shortage in water, electricity and other supplies. Reflecting back on what has been achieved so far, a unity government has been established between the existing ruling party, the GPC (General People's Congress) and the “opposition” JMP (Joint Meeting Party). Saleh, and his regime, whom the people had been revolting against for months, were given an immunity by the international community.

Saleh travelled to the US and will be returning to Yemen to cast his vote for his vice president for the past 18 years, whom he had selected to be his successor and was approved by the GCC as the consensus candidate in the “one man election” taking place on February 21.

This (right) is one of the posters used for the election campaign, seen on various parts of Sanaa, which speaks for itself, posted by one of the most followed groups in Facebook “We are all Taiz” [ar], with a caption asking for readers comments. After 34 years of ruling Yemen, Saleh is finally stepping down as president on election day, February 21, yet his son, nephews and brothers still control the military apparatus, and his regime is very much intact. The independent youth who have been protesting for over a year are back to square one, still in the squares, weak and fragmented, yet still holding on to the hope of building a new Yemen, based on freedom, democracy, justice and social equality.

Supportyemen posted this video which sends out this strong message:

Some take basic human rights for granted, but for us, Yemenis, they are aspirations. We march for better education, better healthcare, freedom of speech, real democracy, for justice, and for dignity!

As I admitted in my post:

Sadly, Yemen has openly become an international protectorate, with regional and international players determining it's future rather than it's own people.

Having said that, I hope very much that the power of the people wins over the people in power.

This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.


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