Saturday, February 26, 2011

Yemen Government Blocks Access to Hospital

Yemen Government Blocks Access to Hospital

Sana'a- Feb 26, 2011- Amnesty International has received reports that security forces in Yemen refused to allow residents to take the injured to hospital after Central Security forces fired on anti-government protesters and bystanders yesterday when at least 11 people were killed.

Security forces fired on protesters from armored vehicles, as well as attacking houses where protesters were believed to have been seeking shelter. Two men were said to have been killed in their houses during a period of intensive gunfire, both of them shot in the head.

Events in Yemen are taking a serious turn for the worse and the Yemeni security forces are showing reckless disregard for human life,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

The Yemeni authorities have a duty to ensure that those injured receive medical treatment. They must on no account block access to urgently needed medical assistance, particularly when people’s lives may be at risk.”

One doctor told Amnesty International: “I went to the al-Mu’alla area to take those injured to hospital, but when I reached there, security forces refused to allow me in, and told me to go back. I showed them my ID, and told them that I was a doctor and wanted to help the injured who were bleeding in the streets. But security forces said to me: ‘Let them die!’ I had to go back.”

The death toll in recent protests calling on the Yemeni president to stand down has now reached 27, with an average of nearly three people killed every day since 16 February. Twenty-four of them have been killed in Aden, two in Sana’a and one in Ta’izz.

The authorities must launch a prompt and independent investigation into the killings of protesters and bystanders in Yemen and reports of denial of access to medical assistance,” said Philip Luther.

Amnesty International has repeatedly warned the Yemeni authorities to rein in their security forces. Their heavy-handed tactics against protesters must immediately cease.”

Source: Amnesty International

Four sisters from Yemen, all Grand Valley students, lead Islamic Awareness Week on campus

Four sisters from Yemen, all Grand Valley students, lead Islamic Awareness Week on campus

By Charley Honey

Sana'a- Feb 26, 2011- At a coffee shop in the Grand Valley State University student center, the four Alsoofy sisters are brewing up a little plan to save their homeland.

ALSOOFY1.JPGCory Olsen | The Grand Rapids PressAt left, Grand Valley State University student Bilquis Alsoofy, 23, sits with her sisters and fellow students, Saltana, 22, and Kaifa, 22, inside the GVSU Kirkhoff Center. The three women, and their sister, Petra, below, dream of fixing problems that trouble the Arab world.

“My sisters think I dream too much,” said Kaifa, 22, who intends to tackle poverty and women’s issues as a social worker. “But I’m hopeful one day I’ll go back to Yemen and fix every problem there is.”

“And I can be the financial officer,” said Saltana, 22, the accounting and management student, with a laugh. Going with the fantasy, she includes her older sisters.

“Petra can start the revolution,” she said, referring to the 24-year-old political science major.

“And you can talk about it and do the stress management,” she added, turning to Bilquis, 23, the sociology and psychology student.

It’s all very lighthearted, but at heart the young women are deadly serious about the revolutionary events sweeping Yemen and other Middle Eastern countries.

While their young counterparts back home were demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Alsoofy sisters were hard at work studying and leading an Islamic Awareness Week at GVSU. But they were emotionally caught up in the remarkable wave of Arab protests that have toppled authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and threaten others.

“People are fed up,” said Petra, the most overtly political of the four. “Most of the people in government are extremely rich and the majority of people are very poor.”

The dramatic revolt in Egypt that forced Hosni Mubarak from power “opens the door to the rest of the region,” she said. “It’s extremely exciting for me.”

So is the prospect of being part of a youth movement that is using Facebook and Twitter to help bring down decades-old dictatorships, the sisters said.

“The youth, they finally have hope, motivation, purpose,” Bilquis said, noting the bleak job market for Yemen’s college graduates.

“The social media played a huge role, because it gave them the power to say, ‘I can say something. My words matter.’”

“The people in power underestimate the people that aren’t,” added Kaifa, speaking softly but firmly. “They’re able to defeat power without money, without weapons.”

Leaders at GVSU

Talking with these four highly focused sisters, it’s clear where their power comes from: education, passion and purpose.

They spearhead the GVSU Muslim Students Association, where Kaifa is president, Bilquis vice president, Saltana financial officer and Petra past president. They organized last week’s Islamic Awareness Week featuring several speakers. Petra also convened an interfaith conference that was to be held today at GVSU.

Adviser Sebastian Maisel called them “the core and perhaps heart of the MSA,” providing leadership, support and role models for its 15 to 20 other members.

It’s no accident the sisters have formed a kind of Fantastic Four on campus. They came to GVSU from Coldwater High School, where Bilquis and Petra were among the first six female graduates from that city’s large Yemeni population.

Heart for education

Education was in their blood since their births in Yemen (no, none of them are twins). Among 10 children of Abdule and Safiah Alsoofy, they grew up in a small village where girls were expected to go to elementary school, get married and have children. Their father had other ideas.

“He really pushed us for education,” Petra said. “He had a lot of issues with people who didn’t see the value of that.”

Their names reflect their parents’ high expectations: Bilquis after the Arab name for the queen of Sheba; Saltana after “kingdom”; Kaifa after a Yemeni tribe; and Petra after the fabled city in Jordan — “or the Christian rock band,” she jokes.

They took their educational advantage seriously.

“I felt I had to prove that girls could go through high school and still be Yemeni girls,” Saltana said. “We felt that what we were doing was not just for us, but to make a statement.”

Though they checked out other schools, they all came to GVSU for its programs, attractive campus, financial aid and all-women’s housing, which set their parents’ minds at ease.

Adjusting to college life

They say they have been mostly well-received at the Allendale campus. But they’ve been called “turban head” because of the head scarves they choose to wear as part of their Muslim faith, and say some students seem to avoid sitting close to them.

“There’s a lot of preaching on this campus about diversity and equality,” Bilquis said. “But there is still a huge space for actually doing it.”

Still, seeing Muslims from other cultures has taught her much about Islam. She realized she wears the hijab not to please her parents, but is “doing this for God.”

The Alsoofy sisters are well-liked and “wonderfully warm people,” said Gleaves Whitney, director of the Haunstein Center for Presidential Studies. He has worked most closely with Petra, who is vice president of the center’s Cook Leadership Academy.

“They show an admirable commitment to social justice, and making sure the debate in America about the Middle East is informed,” Whitney said.

Thirst for justice

The sisters want to see justice done throughout the Middle East, and they aim to do their part.

“People want change,” Saltana said. “They’re seeing what the rest of the world is doing. Their potential and what their government is offering is not matching.”

Although a U.S. citizen like her sisters, she said she feels as attached to Yemen as to America. She intends to return eventually.

“I love Yemen,” said Saltana, who has two brothers there. “I’m definitely going to live there. But I also want to see the opportunities (grow) to live a life that I’d be comfortable with.”

Opportunities are limited in Yemen, a poor country divided by tribal and political factions. Bilquis said it doesn’t have the same unified opposition as Egypt did, and she fears a bloody civil war.

“I hope they all come to their senses and realize there are lives being lost, and that change is needed,” she said.

Yet she and her sisters have great hopes for their country and their fellow young Arabs.

“It’s a revolution happening in our time,” Kaifa said. “Yes, people can do it.”

Source: The Grand Rapids Press

Yemeni Authorities Arrest Five Leaders of the Southern Movement

Yemeni Authorities Arrest Five Leaders of the Southern Movement

By Fatik Al-Rodaini

Aden- Feb 26, 2011- Private sources told the Yemen24news that at least five leaders of the Southern Movement were arrested by Yemen security forces in Al-Mansora district, Aden.

Sources said that security forces arrested the leaders on Saturday while they were holding a meeting in Al-Qahera Street. No more details were reported.

On the other hand, hundreds of protesters continued their sit-in in Al-Molea district in a protest of Yesterday's events.

Yemen Forces two Al-Jazeera correspondents to Leave the Country

Yemen Forces two Al-Jazeera correspondents to Leave the Country

By Fatik Al-Rodaini

Sana'a- Feb 26, 2011- Yemeni government prohibited two Al-Jazeera correspondents from covering the current unrest situation and protests in Yemen.

Private sources said that Yemen's authorities demanded that Ahmed Zidan and Abdu Haq Sadah to leave the country immediately.

Authorities in Yemen accused Al-Jazeera Channel of inciting hatred, exaggerating in news, and distorting of the current situation in Yemen.

Last month, President Ali Abdullah Saleh said that Al-Jazeera channel Serves Zionist and Terrorist Groups.

President Saleh: there is plot against Yemen's unity

President Saleh: there is plot against Yemen's unity

SANA'A- Feb 26, 2011- President Ali Abdullah Saleh presided over on Saturday a meeting of the armed forces' leaders.

At the meeting, Saleh discussed with the armed forces' leaders many issues that concern to the efforts of construction and modernization in the armed forces and enhancing the defensive capacity of the country, as well as the role of the military institution in maintaining the security, stability and national gains.

President Saleh pointed to the importance of this meeting, which comes in complex and difficult circumstances experienced by the Arab world and Yemen in particular.

"The country is going through great difficulties since four years by fits and starts between the various political parts and we are trying all means to address and overcome these difficulties through democratic means but to no avail, although the political leadership provided a package of reforms", Saleh explained.

"This package of reforms designed to calm the situations and heal the rift between all political forces and maintain the security, stability and unity of the country", Saleh said noting that there is a hidden and apparent agenda since the end of the 1994 summer war, which is a fire under the ashes.

He pointed that there is a plot against the unity of Yemen, pointing to two positions emerged clearly over the past years, the first one seeks to separate Yemen's south from its north and the other one seeks to turn the north to the priesthood imamate.

"We are confident that our people and the great national institution will abort any plots and they will not accept to return to the past", Saleh said.

On the sit-ins issues, President Saleh said that the sit-ins and marches are guaranteed by the Constitution and the law.

He pointed out that the military institution bears full responsibility in maintaining the security, unity, freedom and democracy in Yemen, adding that the military institution is the hard power, which all foreign plots and agendas shatter on its rock.

Yemeni people express everyday their love to this the homeland and their readiness to sand by the military institution to defend the country and its gains, Saleh indicated.

"We say to the Yemeni people that the homeland is in safety as long as it is in the hands of his brave sons, who will defend their unity", Saleh said.

"They are now destroying every nice thing in Aden, for nothing but selfishness and remnants of colonialism", said Saleh adding that those who commit vandalism acts are some mercenaries.

Source: Saba