Debate over continued existence of change squares
Over the last few months, Sana’a’s Change Square has witnessed several brawls and disagreements between islamists affiliated with the Islah political party and Houthi groups.
While many Yemenis say the continued presence of protesters in Change Squares is no longer useful, others insist that a continuation of the protests can help to guarantee the restructuring of the military and security services, as well as provide sites from which government actions can be observed and critiqued.
At the Change Square in Sana’a, many protesters withdrew after the signing of the Gulf initiative by Saleh.
According to many protesters, both the people and the location have lost momentum.
Last Thursday, the Cultural Media Center held a workshop on the future of the Change Squares following the recent presidential election.
Some youths present at the workshop called on protesters to leave the Change Squares. They said the formation of a unity government and the holding of an early presidential election represented considerable progress, while also indicating that the existence of the squares serves particular political parties.
For his part, Shadi Yaseen stressed the importance of the continued existence of the Change Squares as guarantee that the revolution’s aims will be achieved.
“Unfortunately, relatives of ousted president Saleh still control the military and security units,” he said.
While Yaseen sees a continuation of the Change Squares as important, he also called on protesters to avoid disagreements and to organize themselves well.
However, he said that Sana’a’s Change Square has become stagnant and added that many revolutionaries cannot fold up their tents and leave the square because of the power exerted by particular political parties.
Wedad Al-Badawi, a journalist and human rights activist, told the Yemen Times that the Change Squares must be reorganized.
“These squares are no longer useful,” she said. “Political powers dominate them and limit the revolutionaries’ freedom.”
Al-Badawi is not satisfied with the current performance of protesters at the Change Squares, and indicated that the squares have no power or impact these days.
She said that some political entities speak under the banner of the Change Squares, but at the same time don’t take the squares seriously.
“There is a big difference between the Change Squares at the present time and at the beginning of the revolution,” she said. “Political powers should empower the revolutionaries at the Change Squares and give them freedom.”
Dr. Fuad Al-Salahi, professor of political sociology at Sana’a University, said that Freedom and Change Squares have provided a wonderful model of social coherence and added that they have been the sites of unprecedented political expression.
However, he criticized some political parties that have exploited the Change Squares in efforts to gain positions in the country’s new government.