The New York Times, By Laura Kasinof
27 April 2011
Protests and work strikes escalated across Yemen on Wednesday, leaving at least 12 dead on one of the country’s most violent days in a month, even as opposition and government officials were moving toward an agreement to usher President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of office in a month.
Local doctors said that at least 10 protesters in Sana, the capital, were shot dead when armed government supporters attacked a demonstration against the resignation deal outlined by the Gulf Cooperation Council. The protesters were marching to the building of the state-owned Yemen TV when they were attacked near a major stadium where there is a small pro-government protest camp. According to witnesses, the battle went on for about an hour and several cars were burned, though it was difficult to see who set them on fire.
“We have organized a march to the TV station in Hasaba, and people there from the stadium started to shoot live ammunition,” said Adel al-Suraby, a student protest leader. “Then they also started to shoot again in front of Al Iman University. It was a very big march in response to the G.C.C. initiative because we refuse it.”
Wednesday was the deadliest day in the capital since 52 protesters were killed on March 18.
Meanwhile, two people, a protester and a soldier, were killed in the southern port of Aden on Wednesday morning when a clash broke out between protesters and security forces, doctors said.
A number of provincial capitals held general strikes as an element of civil disobedience to keep pressure on Mr. Saleh’s government.
“It is important for putting pressure in peaceful ways to protest our demands as the youth,” said Hussein al-Suleily, 28, a protest leader in the central city of Taiz. “This is part of our peaceful method. Yet the regime continues to use violence against us. It’s a series of violence that has only escalated in these 80 days of demonstrations.”
“This is a youth revolution, not a political crisis,” he added while mentioning that the youth in Taiz reject the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative, which officials from Yemen’s opposition and governing parties have now agreed on. The proposal would grant the president and his family immunity from prosecution, a point vehemently rejected by many youth protest leaders and human rights groups.
About a month ago residents in Aden, which has a history of civil disobedience stretching long before the current uprising because of its southern separatist movement, started closing their shops and not going to work every Saturday and Wednesday.
“There is total civil disobedience,” said a local journalist who did not want his name used for fear of reprisal. “All the shops were closed. All the government offices closed. Protesters blocked all the roads.”
He added that there was also a southern separatist protest in two districts of the city to mark the date when the north declared war on south Yemen in 1994. Thousands marched, he said.
A government spokesman said that not all government offices were closed in Aden, though he declined to comment on the issue any further.
Regular strikes have also taken off in Taiz, where residents say about half of the stores are closed every day. Stores are closed in cities including Ibb, Mukalla, Ataq and Beidha as well on Wednesdays and Saturdays for a few hours in the morning. But in Sana, one of the most pro-Saleh areas of the country, protesters say a general strike would be more difficult.
Yemen’s opposition coalition released a statement late Wednesday lashing out at Mr. Saleh and his family for the attacks on protesters. The coalition also said that the six-nation regional bloc, known as the Gulf Cooperation Council, should also take a firm stand in condemning the attacks on demonstrators, or the tentative agreement will not move forward.
“We demand a serious and clear stance if the agreement is going to proceed successfully by condemning these crimes that were carried out by the military and security,” the statement read. “We have agreed to this proposal in order to save our people from more bloodshed.”
The opposition there would be no reason to participate in the proposed transition of power from Mr. Saleh if “the family continues to kill our sons and people