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Stoppage time initiatives!

A revolution is not a pastime like stamp collecting, that you can change for another hobby. Nor is it a penchant for something like coffee that can be replaced by drinking lemonade. It is not a trip or a picnic that can be called off. Rather it is a test of patience, an explosion of suffering, a bearing of horrors, a making slight of hazards and a sacrificing of things most precious -- as a means to get rid of oppression and tyranny, and to seek a life of dignity and pride. The people's rage is not affected. It is the harvest of autocracy, injustice, discrimination and monopolization suffered by Yemenis who now seek to avenge themselves on the regime. It is not easy to convince Taiz people to forget their sufferance of water that is available only every 40 days, without any reaction whatsoever on the part of authorities to alleviate such hardship. And citizens in Aden and Al-Dhale' will not accept their innocent people being killed in cold blood for just staging a peaceful demonstration. And can the people in Ibb be slaughtered like sheep, and then accept a bull as a means of settlement in order to pardon the killers? Tens of thousands of people -- from both the civil and military services -- were dismissed from their jobs and many of them left to work in neighboring countries. Could they forget such unjust treatment that ignored all their legal, constitutional and humanitarian rights? Hundreds of thousands of young people, many of them graduates, were denied fair job opportunities as they watched the children of powerful people assume leading positions that they do not deserve. Is it logical to tell these youth to applaud unemployment, hail nepotism and dance to the tune of public job snatchers? What can we possibly say to the citizens of Hajja who pay up to YR 25,000 to fill a tank with fresh water? Is it enough for such people to be transported to a public square and given a cold bottle of water? How do the people of Hodeida feel about a regime that has made them stand by the roadside, begging for alms from the owners of luxury vehicles before returning to their tin houses? How do they feel about powerful people being granted vast areas by the regime to invest in or establish endless farms? And how should the people of Marib, Abyan and Shabwa feel about a regime that has allowed foreign aircraft to kill their relatives and shed the blood of innocent people, including children and women, under the pretext of fighting terrorism? There are youths denied education, patients denied medicine, wronged people denied justice. There are families whose relatives have been put in jail for years without trial. And on the other side there is vanity, a stubborn refusal to listen to such people's grievances, let alone complying with the law, the constitution, and treating the wronged with fairness. We have become used to the fact that the authorities listen when it is too late, and respond when it is too late. It is not possible here to list the gripes of the people from Al-Mahara and Hadramout to Sa'ada, because they are simply too numerous to count, despite their lucidity and range. The one thing they have in common is their being unrecognized by the regime. The train of change has moved, and what is rejected by the rulers today will be left behind by the people tomorrow. It is for the regime's own good to listen to the public without delay. And for the record, the Joint Meeting Parties introduced a political reform program in 2005 that was completely rejected by the authority. The same authority denied the existence of any crisis in the country, but it is recognizing it today when it is now too late. While the opposition kept demanding dialogue, the authority was stalling and accepted forming the '200 Committee' only after political life was in crisis. When the '4 Committee' presented a road map to discuss all national issues, the ruling party held a press conference in which it closed the door on dialogue. The party was encouraged by the latest Egyptian election, so it declared that it would run in the election alone. It went further to approve the law of elections and set up the election supreme committee to serve the party's purposes. It turned a deaf ear to advice and did not make any effort to talk to parliament members when they staged a sit-in. Instead this party kept mocking them and downplaying the whole matter. The MPs were even told: "Go to the people because no one supports you. Leave the closed chambers!" The opposition was forced to take a one-way path to find out that the public were way ahead, and that they were waiting for the moment of fusion and have now risen up all over the country. Now the authority is seeking dialogue that it earlier rejected, something that is not easy for the opposition today! The JMP and their partners announced that they would hold a festival at Al-Tahrir Square, upon which the authority hurried to occupy the location, set up tents, block roads and scare shopkeepers. The public masses took their sit-in to the university. And now the same authority is demanding those tents be removed, after it was the one who started erecting tents in Al-Tahrir Square, on Siteen Street and elsewhere. The authority had shoved constitutional amendments upon the parliament, "removed" presidential terms, and accepted neither advice nor objection to the provocation of the Yemeni people. But today the regime says that they have withdrawn the amendments through the President's announcement at the joint Parliament/Shura Council meeting. However, this "initiative" has not been implemented, neither were the election laws withdrawn, nor was the supreme election committee disabled, or any measures taken to withdraw the constitutional amendments, nor was the bequeathal abolished. Then there are pro-regime demonstrations that require the JMP to respond to the President's initiative, which we have not seen any practical steps to implement. The authorities still claim that demonstrators demanding change are in groups of tens or hundreds, and that their own supporters are in the millions. When they finally recognize the people, the people will have discarded the regime. So can the regime set things right in stoppage time? The people, while not seeking chaos or sedition, will not give up what is rightfully theirs.

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Publication:Yemen Times (Sana'a, Yemen)
Date:Mar 10, 2011
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