‘Black day’ protests leave 4 dead, 20 injured
On Saturday, four people died and 20 were injured during protests in Aden, Seiyon and Al-Makala.
Anees Mansour, a journalist in Aden who was present during mass protests in Al-Hashmi Square in Khawr Maksar, said the protests were large and all social factions took part. However, he said the protesters raised different banners indicating a divided stance.
“Such protest took place in Al-Makala but failed when they raised the pictures of Ali Salem Al-Beed,” Mansour said. “Rows caused the removal of Al-Beed's pictures and the upholding Hassan Baom's, a prominent figure in the peaceful southern movement.”
Mansour said protests were organized; yet rifts among the participants sparked chaos. Some young people tried to regain the square, which is now under the hold of the central security forces, according to Mansour.
“The demonstrators arrived in Al-Ghazl and Al-Naseej roundabout. The security forces prevented their expansion. Roof snipers killed two and wounded six others.”
There was a fire exchange between the militants and the security forces, said Mansour, who added that Al-Qaeda has taken advantage of disagreements within the southern movement.
“A lot of southerners deem what happened in July 1994 as occupation. However, the government in Sana'a, represented by the General Peoples' Congress (GPC), considered it as an attempt to unify Yemen and end separation.”
Political analyst Abdul Rakeeb Al-Hadiani said all observers admit armed men confront the security forces. Two days ago, the parliamentarian committee in Al-Mansoura declared that militants open fire from the roofs in the vicinity of Al-Mansoura Square.
Qasim Askar, the former ambassador and the general secretary of the southern movement, said protesters came out to condemn July 7 as a “black day.”
“The central security forces confronted the southern protesters, and they were fully encircled,” Askar said. “It is an occupation.”
Khalid Haidan, information assistant in the Islah party said people who confronted the security forces are the ones who refuse to take part in the National Dialogue.
“They are violent southern militants affiliated with Al-Beed and who call for the end of unification,” Haidan said.
Askar, on the contrary, denied the accusations.
“The southern movement choice is peaceful one,” he said. “There were no weapons used by the southern movement five years ago. The Islah party intentionally launched a media campaign, and we deny such accusations.”
Mohammed Saleh Al-Qubati, a parliamentarian, said confrontations take place during a critical time for Yemen and create an unfit climate for the National Dialogue Conference.
“Violence is rejected in any activity in the south,” Al-Qubati said. “There are political problems that need a national solution, not violence.”
Qasim Dawood, the second secretary in the Socialist party, said he condemned the deaths in Aden, describing it as a crime against the “peaceful” protests.
“The southern issue has to do with southerners,” Dawood said. “We respect those who hold the southern issue in esteem. Why doesn’t the government use the tanks in the north to quell the protests?”
Saeed Al-Aghbari, information assistant in the political authority in the General Peoples' Congress, belittled the importance of protests, dubbing them as futile.
“The violent demonstrations are not peaceful.”
Al- Aghabari said local authorities don’t prevent people from protesting, however, banditry, violence and confrontations with the security forces are considered unacceptable.
Mohammed Nassir Al-Musallami, a member of the Higher Council for the Movement of Military Retirees, said the group demands that the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen be restored.
“The unification was stabbed on July 7, 1994,” he said.
Askar agreed with Al-Musallami, saying that chances for unification ended in the war of 1994.
“Our struggle is peaceful and we ask our friends in the Yemen Arab Republic to divide and maintain our relations as they were before the unification,” Askar said.
Several southern political figures condemned the celebration of the ousted regime on Saturday.
“What was caused by the ousted regime made people rebel against the unification,” Haidan said.
JPC and the southern movement
This week, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) adopted a 12-point plan given to President Abdu Rabu Mansur Hadi and the Yemeni government by the Socialist party. The plan tackles the southern issue and prepares for the dialogue.
Askar said he doesn't recognize any compromise with the southern issue, especially if this compromise was provided by the JPC.
“Until now, the policy of the JPC is a part of the occupation's policy,” he said. “There is no difference between the former regime and the current one.”
“This is the issue of a homeland, and we will struggle not only for a martyr or a detained person, but our struggle is to restore a land that has been stolen by oppressive forces.”