Sunday, December 25, 2011

Yemeni Revolutionaries Demand US Ambassador to Yemen Must Leave

By Hassan Al-Haifi
26 December 2011

A leading component of the Yemeni peaceful protesters against the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh demand that US Ambassador to Yemen, Mr. Gerald M. Feierstein, be fired from his post and sent back home to the United States "without delay". The US Ambassador reportedly made statements that the Yemeni peaceful Revolutionaries found to be insulting to their dignity and to the millions of Yemenis that come out to support them from every Governorate. The "Convoy of Life" arrived to Sana'a after a four day march that began in Ta'ez and eventully ended up with over 100,000 who joined with the convoy as it approached Ibb, Dhamar and the hundreds of villages along the way (250 km). Among other things, the Ambassador is said to have called the protesters law breakers and violators of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Initiative, and went on to testify that the protesters were actually armed, when he never even looked at them. The Convoy of Life is a new initiative created by the peaceful protesters in Freedom Square, Ta'ez, to rejuvenate the Revolution, after the signing of the GCC Initiative in Riyadh on November 23, 2011. Before the convoy reached Sana'a, government Central Security troops and paramilitary thugs started to attack the convoy in Dar Salm (about 20 km south of Sana'a and stiffened the attack when the convoy was able to reach Sana'a and come to within 2 km of the Presidential Palace, where Ali Abdulla Saleh continues to reside although he has presumably transferred all his authority to Vice President Abdur Rabbo Hadi, as called for by the GCC Initiative. Most Yemenis believe that this transfer is not worth the paper it is written on. The Yemeni youth continue to insist that they are not a party to the GCC Initiaitive as it gives Saleh, his relatives, and cronies immunity from prosecution for human rights violations and all the billions of US dollars, they have all robbed from the Yemeni treasury, and the horrendous corruption that has characterized the Saleh regime, since it came to power in 1978. They conitnue to demand that Saleh stand trial and punishement for all his crimes. The international human rights watchdog groups have all condemned the idea of giving Saleh, his relatives and cronies immunity, which organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and even the UN Commission on Human Rights, regard as a dangerous precedent, especially as such immunity is guaranteed by the international community in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2014 on Yemen issued on October 21, 2011, which endorses the GCC Initiative.

Here is the a copy of the letter to be sent to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent – the Merciful
To:      His Excellency Barack Obama, President of the United States of America
Her Excellency, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State in the Obama Administration
Ref:  The US Ambassador to the Republic of Yemen is an Advocate for a Tyrannical Mob and must be Removed Immediately.
December 25, 2011
Dear Excellencies:
First of all, please allow us to take this opportunity, on behalf of the Yemeni people, express to both of you and the American people our sincere season's greetings and the best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year 2012.
The Yemeni people have been carrying out an uprising against the continuation of the rule of Dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh since the beginning of 2011. As you are both fully aware, Ali Abdullah Saleh's forces, which are still commanded by his sons and nephews, still rely on a continuous excessively brutal reactive response to the growing popular demand for democratic change in Yemen, which betrays a lack of vision typical of another age – a by-gone era when suppression of human rights and restricting freedom and liberty were common practices.
Instead of respecting the legitimate rights of the Yemeni people to peacefully protest and express themselves, Saleh, his family and his hired paramilitary thugs continue to mercilessly clamp down on any peaceful protest demonstration, march or rally.  They continue unabashedly to deal with any popular uprising by randomly and indiscriminately killing unarmed Yemeni citizens with all kinds of light and heavy weapons.
Yesterday, December 24 (Christmas Eve), doctors at the Field Hospital in Change Square and other hospitals in Sana'a reported that 13 protesters were ruthlessly killed and over 100 were mercilessly wounded by trigger-happy Central Security troops and paramilitary thugs under the command of Saleh's nephew, Yahya Mohammed Abdullah Saleh.  Without any reasonable warning, these mercenaries of death opened
fire at over 100,000 protesters, who have converged into the Capital, Sana'a, gathering strength as they marched (mostly on foot) over four days from to Ta'ez to Sana'a, in a convoy called the Convoy of Life.
This craving for the bloodletting of innocent peaceful protesters comes even as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) brokered the so called "transition deal", backed by your Excellency's Administration's strong support and guarantees, is presumably being carried out by the signing parties to the accord.  You should be aware that the peaceful protesting youth and their fellow Yemeni supporters, who continuously still come out by the millions, were not party to such an unprecedented feat of political engineering drawn up mainly by despotic tyrants.  Thus, the constitutional rights of Yemenis to continue to demand genuine democratic changes in the way the Yemeni people are governed after 33 years of harsh dictatorship are legitimately guaranteed by the Yemeni Constitution, international agreements and conventions and even the recently issued United Nations Security Council Resolution 2014 on Yemen issued on 21 October 2011.
At the very same time that Saleh's murderer's were carrying out their bloodbath against the convoy in Dar Salm and on the southern periphery of Sana'a, the Yemeni people were awed by shocking statements made by your Ambassador to Yemen, Mr. Gerald M. Feierstein.  The statements, which defy all principles of diplomatic protocol, actually went on to actually condemn the victims of this most recent of Saleh's heinous massacres.  Mr. Feierstein stated, among other things, without any shred of evidence that the peaceful convoy was armed and that the convoy was a violation of the GCC Initiative.  Mr. Feierstein surely knows that the majority of Yemenis, led by the peaceful youth protesters, oppose and are not in any way represented thereto by any signatory.    The major international and local press have shown the horror of this massacre and also pointed out the reaction of the Yemeni people to the inflammatory statements of the US Ambassador, as this link clearly details: Forces Loyal to Yemeni President Fire on Protesters - New York Times.
Almost from the start of his tenure in Yemen, Ambassador Feierstein has never been very cordial with his personal (we certainly would hope that they are not viewed as official US views, accepted by your Administration) disappointing declarations on Yemen and the Yemeni people, and Feierstein's mostly defensive stances with the tyrannical Saleh regime. 
On behalf of the millions of protesting Yemeni people peacefully demanding a comprehensive regime change in Yemen, the Coordinating Council of Yemeni Revolution for Change (CCYRC), we are obliged to inform Your Excellencies that the hostile statements by the US Ambassador to Yemen yesterday on the peaceful convoy and its resulting bloodbath are indeed an affront to the human dignity of our people.  Such unwelcome statements, to say the least, show a clear great disrespect for the sovereignty of Yemen, and the legitimate rights of the Yemeni people accorded by such sovereignty. 
Furthermore, CCYRC strongly detest such rude foreboding accusations against innocent unarmed protesters by the representative of the American people in Yemen, who, so far, has been far from being any reflection of American democratic principles and freedom loving values.  On the contrary, the Yemeni people have only seen your Ambassador as taking on the position of advocate and defender of Saleh's ruthless oppression of his people, almost from the start of his assignment in Yemen.
Surely, your Administration can well understand that such contemptuous statements by the Chief Diplomat of the US Embassy in Yemen, are bound to be the best fermenting grounds for increasing hostility against the US and will only benefit those who are seeking to promote an anti-US and anti-western agenda as means to promoting a menacing Jihadist culture in Yemen, which neither the Yemeni people or the American people mutually look upon with any great favor.  

Thus, CCYRC strongly demand that the US embassy and State Department issue an official apology and that Mr. Feierstein be immediately dismissed as Ambassador of the United States to Yemen and sent home without any further delay.

Published on 26 12 2011

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Friday, December 02, 2011

Ta'ez Under Fire by Saleh's Forces and No End in Sight

Courtesy of New York Times Photo by Associated Press

By Hassan Al-Haifi
2 December 2011

It is not clear how long the remaining forces of the supposedly deposed President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, will continue to indiscriminately and randomly shell the City of Ta'ez, in a frantic effort to quell the brave peaceful protest there against the diehard Saleh regime. This suppression of the people of Ta'ez (and elsewhere in Yemen) has not let up even with the signing of the GCC Initiative in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on November 24, 2011. They certainly are not leading to anything closer to reducing the aura of hell that the shelling of the city has brought on to the inhabitants of Ta'ez. Last week Human Rights Watch pointed out that 35 unarmed residents of the city were killed since the United Nations issued Security Council Resolution 2014 calling for a cessation of the use of excessive force by the Saleh regime against legitimate peaceful protests. Even after the signing of the GCC Initiative, and the entry of Yemen into the transitionary period, the bloodletting in Ta'ez has not abated. During this period, Saleh was to hand over all powers to his Vice President, and remain as a "ceremonial President" (whatever that means is not clear, and he certainly is not being ceremonial now) and then to implement the procedures for the power sharing scheme between the ruling party, the General People's Congress (GPC) with the formal opposition factions (including the Joint Meeting Parties of official opposition parties and other loose but nevertheless powerful factions) that co-signed the multi-faceted and still unclear transition deal as set out in the "mechanism for implementation" appended to the GCC Initiative. The latter was worked out by Jamal Ben Omar, UN Special Envoy sent to Yemen to get the political deal signed and implemented. Whatever the case, although there are some other political activities called for by the transition deal (such as the naming of a temporary caretaker government (comprising agreed division of ministerial portfolios between the signing parties said to come to 34 ministries!). But for the people of Ta'ez, Arhab (north of Sana'a, Nehm and other Saleh hotspots, the regime continues to see force as the only way to deal with protesters against the President, who has ruled Yemen now for 33 years.
For the last three days alone, the number of casualties have surpassed 25 fatalities, 12 of them on Thursday alone and the number of wounded has surpassed 100. The objective of the shelling of Ta'ez in this almost sadistic manner is not seen by many observers except as an obvious desire to forcefully end all protests against the regime. Others believe that the Saleh regime is pursuing to provoke anti regime protesters to take up arms against the Saleh regime and thus bring an all out war in Yemen, so that the regime can escape from meeting its commitments in the GCC Initiative and thus forfeit the need to abdicate by President Saleh altogether. The revolutionary youth of Yemen have issued an appeal to the "brokers" of the GCC Initiative and the international community to take measures to stop Saleh's continuous persecution of Yemeni protesters in general and the people of Ta'ez in particular ( Today, the world must reconsider its position towards the Saleh regime. The latter is not even grateful to the sponsors of the GCC Initiative and its international guarantors for granting Saleh and his supporters immunity against being held accountable for all their violations of human rights and the corruption of regime officials over the last third of a century. All international human rights advocacy groups (HRW and Amnesty International among others) have rejected such stipulations as being conducive to international law and set a dangerous precedent for future efforts to deal with repressive and corrupt regimes.

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