Yemen: Remembering the Friday of Dignity

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

Friday March 18 is a a tragic day in Yemen's history, a date that is engraved in every Yemenis’ memory, better known as Friday of Karamah, or the Friday of Dignity. On this date back in 2011, security forces built a wall near Change square in Sanaa, filled it with tyres and petrol and immediately after Friday prayer they set it on flames to block the protesters. This occurred as [former President Ali Abdullah] Saleh's supporters posted on rooftops, allies and houses, opened fire on the massive march and caused an unprecedented atrocious and brutal bloodshed.

Around 52 protesters were killed on that day and close to 100 were reportedly injured, according to witnesses and medical staff. It was a turning point in Yemen's revolution, which made many people, statesmen, diplomats, and soldiers defect and join the ranks of the protesters.

The tragic events of Friday of Karamah was captured through the lens of three cameramen and recounts of eyewitnesses, in a powerful documentary appropriately called “Karamah Has No Walls.” It is a collaborative work of Yemeni youth from the heart of Sanaa's Change Square, which successfully conveys to the viewer the emotions, fears and calamity of that bloody day. The documentary is beautifully directed by Yemeni female director Sara Ishaq – @yemyogini.

The two parts of the documentary are uploaded by OfficialSuhailTV [Warning: Extreme graphic content].

Part 1

Part 2

As I described the documentary in my blog post:

It is a profound humanitarian message that reflects the enormity of the plight, the magnitude of the suffering and the dimension of the sacrifices of the Yemeni revolution. It also resonates the resolute, steadfast and commitment of all Yemenis to the revolution and it's demands. Above all it is a powerful incriminating piece of evidence documenting one of the regimes’ many brutal atrocities & crimes against humanity.

The month of March started with the dignity march, calling for change and freedom, turned into a massacre, and sadly ended with the GCC-brokered deal and the rest is history.

Meanwhile, Yemenis remember this day with remorse for the lives lost and what could have been achieved and was not. Yemeni neitzens commiserate on Twitter.

@SummerNasser tweeted:

#Mar18 will be put down in history: It will be the day we remember how carelessly our people were killed b/c they called for freedom. #Yemen

Yemeni photographer Abdulrahman Jaber tweeted a set of photographs that he captured through his lens on that tragic day:


18 March photos in Sanaa, pictures from the memory ..part of unforgetable memroies 18+ #yemen

@Afrahnasser tweeted:

Today #Yemen mourns 52 ppl who were killed last year because they were defending freedom & change #Yemen

Despite the bad weather condition in Sanaa today, young and old men, women and children gathered in 60 Street to attend the commemoration of the 1st anniversary of March 18 Karama massacre day.

@yemen_updates tweeted:

Regardless of the heavy sand/dust storm in #Sanaa, dozens of thousands continue arriving at 60 St to commemorate the Karama Day. #Yemen

@ichamza cynically tweeted:

#March18th more than 50 young men were killed in cold blood and the murderers were caught b4 our eyes! but r still unknown! #Yemen

@Afrahnasser asks with remorse:

What shall we tell the 52 ppl killed after we allowed the #GCCDeal & gave ammunity to #Saleh !! #Yemen

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basendwah announced a donation of 50 million riyals for the benefit of the families of the martyrs on the anniversary of Karama Day. (video uploaded by belaquood).

The change the lives the martyrs on this day and others throughout the year of revolution readily sacrificed for has not been achieved and justice has not been served and this governmental gesture, albeit a year later, certainly is not the solution Yemenis were looking for!

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


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