Why?Why the 18th of March was the date for the National Dialogue conference to commence? Why was it so of all dates? Why it weren’t, say, on the 19th, 20th? Did you forget what took place on this day, 2011 and the anniversary we must commemorate? Do you remember? We do.
It was an ordinary Friday until the tragedy struck us all. It was Friday of dignity where protesters were deceived by the silence of the security guards who were there and did nothing but watched; to allow one of Yemen’s deadliest massacres to occur. The massacre’s location was change square, at the heart of Sana’a. It was destined to become a bloodbath for peaceful protesters who were arbitrarily being shot down with bullets in the head one after another. Alas, how absolutely independently driven were those killed protesters to realize the uprising! On that very day, a group of veiled armed thugs and snipers waited till the end of the Friday prayers - at least they were endowed with respect for praying- then opened fire at protesters from behind killing one after another just like that with a cold blood. Notice, the snipers came from behind which spoke a lot about their iniquity.
I wish I can get you in my head and make you listen to the sound of bullets that I still vividly remember. I wish you can sense what I’m feeling now when all the memories are back. Being at our home in Sana’a located right next to change square, hearing the sound of bullets one after another for continuous 5 hours, insanely worrying about whose chests or heads those bullets were going to rip! For God sake’s! my teenage cousin was there and could have been among the killed ones. Regardless, the death toll of that day was 53 and over 200 were injured. Was your cousin or a relative among them?
I remember also watching my helpless mother panicking and running from one room to another at home, and I was trying to calm her down and resisting my tears, oh heart is aching once again. The feeling of helplessness was unbelievable. Even though I should have developed tough skin against going through violence and atrocities that Yemen lived through periodically for all my 28 years lifetime, the bullets’ sound still live in my head and kills my soul little by little. Why should we tell you this anyway when you are a veteran army man yourself who has been in the army structure for a huge part of your lifetime.
Nevertheless Friday of dignity massacre is described as a milestone in Yemen’s uprising long process, we’d oppose that notion and we mainly believe that the aftermath events of that day were the milestone. Yemenis’ blood has been always shed, like when nearly 200 people got killed after being burned in Abyan’s armory explosion on the 28th March, 2011, or when nearly 100 soldiers were killed during a suicide bomb attack in Sab’een square on the 21th May, 2012. On the 21st March, one of Yemen’s military dictators hijacked the revolution; a political decision that astounded the whole country. General Ali Muhsen al-Ahmar, had no right whatsoever to defect his half-brother, ousted president Ali Abduallah Saleh and join the uprising that people embarked to topple all those tyrannical figures of all types; army, tribal and war criminals.
The post-Friday of dignity political decision was indeed the milestone in Yemen’s uprising and the birth of Yemen’s uprising problem. Yes, it was a problem. In the awake of that massacre, several regional and international allies of Yemen’s government came to rescue Yemen from the so-called civil war. They mastered perceiving the nation’s uprising to be a mere political crisis in which innocent civilians were killed. I wonder what kind of logic they used to reason the bloodshed! That unjust logic was embodied in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) power-transfer plan.
"Your dialogue is a betrayal to the dignity martyrs," sprays political activist, Rathwan al-Haimi in one of Sana'a's streets' wall.
They all were eager to implement the saudi version of democracy where you and only you were the only candidate in the February 2012 presidential election. How funny was that! We wish there was also an eager to implement justice to punish all the criminals, armed thugs, and snipers who killed those 53 protesters on that day. No one has been punished till today. No one. In fact, in the attempt to silence the truth, an unknown armed person has assassinated the prosecution investigative lawyer in the case of the Friday of dignity massacre, Hassan Ahmed in his own home on December, 2012. Just like that! He was our hope for justice to be served.
If there is any justice in the world, you’d have not chosen the 18th of March for the conference to take place. Choosing this date is a systematic attempt to erase that tragedy from the nation’s mind. You aim to make us only remember the conference but how about the massacre? Rephrasing anniversaries’ names is not new in Yemen’s political nature. On the 7th July 1994, the northern’s forces invaded the south to make an end to the civil war and didn’t “liberate” it as we were taught in school’s history books.
Will the next generation’s school books mention the 18th of March as the beginning of the National Dialogue conference only? While being in self-exile, it breaks my heart to visualise the future for my country. What fuels me with hope is young revolutionaries inside Sana’a like Rathwan al-Haimi. “We reject the conference and how it came up in the first place through the GCC deal plan. How can we, the revolutionaries have a dialogue with criminals who hijacked the revolution? we can’t betrayal the martyrs. I can’t let down my killed friends during the uprising. Justice must be served,” tells me Rathwan.
He plans to lead a big demonstration today in Sana’a to protest against launching the conference. And the struggle for justice continues.