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September 29, 2011

An SOS from Yemen

Prof. Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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Last week I signed an international appeal regarding the dire situation in Yemen; a forgotten country where a brutal regime is killing its people for the last 8 months:

“Whereas the young people of Yemen for the last 8 months were leading a peaceful revolution calling for democracy, freedom and social justice,

Whereas Yemen has been ruled by President Saleh and his family for 33 years,

Whereas Saleh’s regime used violence to squash his people’s revolution killing thousands and wounding tens of thousands, and TODAY (Friday September 23, 2011) he returned to Yemen from Saudi Arabia to continue a genocide against his people,

Whereas Saleh’s regime lost its legitimacy and many of its officials resigned in protest including academics, ministers, diplomats, military personal and journalists, and

Whereas Saudi Arabia and the US, the main financial and political backers of Saleh’s regime, are hindering progress for the last 8 months towards ending the bloodbath and by not calling for President Saleh and his family to step down,

We are the people of conscience appeal to governments, especially that of Saudi Arabia and the US, to the UN, to the EU, to the Arab League, to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the International Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, Amnesty International and other NGOs:

  1. To send and facilitate sending humanitarian aids including medical supplies and medications, and medical personal to the people of Yemen immediately.
  2. To call for an immediate ceasefire.
  3. To send UN observers to monitor that ceasefire.
  4. To send a fact finding mission from the UN or the Arab League.
  5. To have an arms embargo on the country.
  6. To take all the necessary non-military means to persuade President Saleh and his family to step down and to hand power to a National Transitional Council to hold free elections within 12 months.”

Saleh and his family run the army, a force of 100,000 strong. His son Ahmed is the head of the Presidential Guards, a force of 12,000 which gets most of the US financial backing which amounts to some $300 million per year. His other son Khalid is the head of the main bulk of the army. Saleh’s nephew Mohamed is the head of the air force. Another nephew Tariq is the head of the President’s Personal Guards. Another nephew Yahiya is the head of the Central Security Forces.

In the weeks leading to his return to Yemen, thousands of men, women and children were killed – in one day 83 protesters were shot dead by Saleh’s security services.

Tom Finn, an eyewitness journalist reported in the Guardian on September 21, “One by one, the bodies emerged from the morgue, wrapped in yellow blankets and carried out on the shoulders of grieving relatives and friends. A group of veiled women wailed in grief as placards showing the pale, bloody face of a baby boy shot in the head on Tuesday bobbed above the crowd.”

“As the mourners bowed down to pray, the loud thud of explosions suddenly began echoing off the surrounding mountains. A shaky ceasefire, negotiated on Tuesday by the vice-president and acting head of state, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, had been broken,” Finn continued, “The Republican Guard, who are loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's son, and a division of renegade soldiers were once again battling for Sana'a. The crowd looked on as white smoke rose from the city. "Allahu akbar," they roared as sorrow quickly turned to anger.

By the time the crowd had reached Change Square, the three-mile stretch of road in the heart of Sana'a where protesters have been camped since February, doctors were saying a further five protesters had been killed. Dr Tariq Noman, a surgeon who has been working in the field hospital in Change Square since March, had seen four of the dead: "One killed by a falling shell, two by stray bullets and one by sniper fire."”

The Yemeni revolution started with a major demonstration of over 16,000 peaceful protestors, mainly university students, in the capital Sana’a on 27 January, only two days after a similar one which has ignited the Egyptian revolution. Soon other Yemeni cities from the far north to the far south, especially Taiz and Aden joined Sana’s. But unlike Egypt’s revolution, the family-run army of Saleh responded by killings thousands protesters.

The bloodbath will continue until the international community, especially Saudi Arabia sides with the Yemeni people. If you agree and would like to join the international effort to stop the killing of peaceful anti-government protesters in Yemen, email me:

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