Bloody day in Yemen

Today was a rather unusual day at Yemen Times. The atmosphere was unbelievably precarious. For many who experienced the 2011 uprising, it felt like history was repeating itself, except that not much had changed for Yemen’s citizens.

A tweet I saw earlier reminded me  much hope people were filled with back then.

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For the locals and staff I work with, the fighting and bloodshed was reminiscent of the 2011 events that ultimately led to the downfall of the Saleh government.

One of the reporters I work with in the newsroom, shook his head in despondence saying, “this is only getting worse.”

Since I arrived in mid-august, the security situation has debilitated. The Houthis have usurped the capital by setting up their encampments along the main ministry buildings in the capital.

The shiite rebel group have been protesting for three things mainly: ousting the government, re-enactment of fuel subsidies, and implementation of NDC outcomes, since the slashing of fuel subsidies in July.

The pictures on Houthi-run Al Maseera TV were graphic. A part of me wanted to turn the other way, but then I curiously hung on to every image waiting to see if the images would get worse, and they did. The violence didn’t stop for a few hours and carried into the late afternoon.

An injured protester being interviewed on Al-Maseera TV
An injured protester being interviewed on Al-Maseera TV
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A tense atmosphere in the newsroom

In the newsroom, we were tweeting, writing updates. There were conflicting reports from Houthi-run Al Maseera TV and the government, on protesters killed while marching to the cabinet headquarters. Initially we heard 4 were confirmed dead, and by 4 pm the numbers had increased to ten. To me these numbers were unbelievable, as I saw more bodies transported on stretchers with several abandoned sandals in the street. Graphics of the man’s skull ripped off and several men with blood-stained thawbs and injured feet have stayed on.

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I asked around, whats going to happen next, and nobody seemed to know. No one.

On my way out, Khalid (who looks into visa arrangements at Yemen Times) invited me to chew Qat. I declined as I had some work. He said, “All your troubles will go away.” I smiled, thinking Its little wonder why more than 90 per cent of the men in this country turn to the stimulant.

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