Sana’a residents give their view on southern independence

Published on 27 November 2014 in Photo Essay
Khalid Al-Karimi (author)

Khalid Al-Karimi

Ziyad Amer‭

On Oct. 14, 1963, Yemenis in the south began a revolution against the British colonialists. After more than four years of struggle, on Nov. 30, 1967, the last British soldier left and South Yemen became independent. This year, the pro-secessionist Southern Movement established a protest camp in Aden city on Oct. 14, and is calling for all civil and military personnel from the north to leave the south by Nov. 30.

Secessionist calls have been present since 1994, when a civil war broke out between the former countries of North and South Yemen, which unified only four short years earlier. In 2007, the Southern Movement was established and has become a major force calling for secession in the south.

Whether or not the south will secede—or can, or should—is a matter of great debate. With protesters camped in Al-Arood Square in Aden, and with the Nov. 30 deadline approaching, the Yemen Times asked residents in Sana’a if they think southerners have the right to secede and whether they support their demands.


Ziyad Amer, a traffic policeman from Dhamar governorate, northern Yemen

The southern people do not have the right to be independent, and this will never happen. The south and north became one country after the Yemeni people gave huge sacrifices to realize this national achievement. They have every right to express their grievances and they can refer to the government to address their issues. The government is the mother of all [Yemeni] people. Secession will destroy the economy, divide the people, and undermine the state. It is not sane to allow this to take place.

Laina Ahmed Al-Qubati, a businesswoman from Taiz, northern Yemen

I do not uphold the secessionist demands because seceding means further divisions in the country.
We cry out to unite our efforts and be one hand at this particular point in Yemen’s political history. I think secession will only serve the purpose of foreign countries that are interested in dividing Yemen. I am still optimistic the Yemeni people are aware of this critical stage and will not allow Yemen to slide into such a dangerous situation. 
 Hanadi Al-Hadad and Zainab Sharf Al-Deen, Sana’a University students, Arts College

We think the Southern Movement does not have the right to call for secession. Unity is the right of all Yemenis, not only the south. At the same time, the government should listen to the southern demands and fairly take their voices into account. The Southern Movement should not adhere to their calls for separation because separation will return us to the dark past. If the south secedes, We will not be able to go to the south freely as we do today given the fact that Yemen will be two separate countries. This is not for the good of Yemen. Also, lots of northerners are living in the south. How could they be evacuated? This is really difficult. Separation will also have negative consequences for the economy and tourism, among other things.

 Tareq Ziyad, a member of a Houthi popular committee in the Sana’a

The southern people have the right to secede so long as the government does not fulfill their demands. We do not accept injustice. So, I hope the government will take heed of their demands and give them the rights they deserve. Those who say they will sacrifice themselves for the sake of unity are liars—they only want to provoke the southern people. We are with the southern people, and they will have their own rights and resources even if they secede. Injustice is always unacceptable.
 Abdulrahman Al-Dhalei, a Sana’a University student from the south

I am from the south, and we, the southerners, have the right to self-determination. Nov. 30 is a memorable day in the history of the southern nation. We have the right to secede. We have the right to regain our southern state. We have the right to get all our rights. The southerners gave up their own entire country in May of 1990 for the sake of unity. They gave up their flag, identity, capital, and currency for the sake of unity. The southerners have been treated as though they are occupied. Therefore, they have the right to return to their state and decide on self-determination. The only thing that I am worried about is internal rifts among the southerners themselves. Personally, this is the only concern.