Tension in Change Square

Published on 29 December 2011 in News
Sadeq Al-Wesabi (author)

Sadeq Al-Wesabi

Around 200 protesters were injured in the Change Square of Sana’a in clashes between Islahis and Houthis.

Around 200 protesters were injured in the Change Square of Sana’a in clashes between Islahis and Houthis.

SANA'A -  A new row between Houthi supporters and Islah loyalists left 20 people injured in Sana’a’s Change Square early on Wednesday morning, according to eyewitnesses. 


The fight started in the dark, and caused damage to tents, chairs, and audiovisual equipment. Those involved branded stones, wooden sticks, and sharp tools. An investigation committee has been formed to look into the cause of the violence.


Houthis are supporters of the anti-regime Zaidi rebellion in the northern governorate of Sa'ada, and Islah is the traditional opposition Islamist party that has been heavily involved in the political organisation of Yemen's uprising.


Renewed tensions have arised on the square after thousands of protesters from the Taiz governorate arrived in Sana’a on Saturday, after a four-day-long march to the capital protesting the Gulf initiative and Saleh’s immunity from prosecution. When they arrived, government security forces intercepted the march with gunfire and tear gas, leading to 13 being killed, and sparking renewed demonstrations.


In the last few days, the revolutionary square's Security Committee has also been accused of using violence against newly-arrived protesters from Taiz who wanted to build a new stage in the square. 


Human rights activist Samiya Al-Aghbari said that an anonymous party aimed to cause rifts among protesters in Change Square.


She claimed that the traditional ruling party, the General People’s Congress (GPC), aimed to weaken the revolution’s momentum and the unity of the protesters.


"No one will benefit from these disagreements except the regime," she said.


"You should be unified, tolerant, and focused on the interests of the revolution," she advised anti-regime protesters.


For his part, Kamal Sharaf, a cartoonist and pro-democracy protester, said that Change Square is no longer a place for freedom.


"It has become a place full of hatred, conflict, and extremism," he said.


Sharaf holds all parties - Houthis, human rights activists, and independent protesters -responsible for this disagreement.


Motasem Thabet, another protester, said that all protesters have the right to express themselves and criticized the way that the Security Committee had dealt with some of the protesters. 


"Both parties are mistaken," he said. "... All people have the right to build a stage, as long as they maintain the unity of protesters."