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Defying Government Repression, Yemeni Protests Continue for 6th Day

StoryFebruary 16, 2011
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Iona Craig

Freelance journalist with the English-language weekly Yemen Times.

Anti-government demonstrations in Yemen have entered their sixth day as student demonstrators were beaten by pro-government supporters armed with batons, stones and daggers. The protesters are calling for the immediate resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled the country for three decades. The protests have forced President Saleh to cancel a trip to Washington, D.C., scheduled for next month. Yemen is a key ally of the United States in the region, and President Obama is proposing to bolster strategic ties. We speak with Iona Craig, a journalist based in the Yemeni capital Sana’a. [includes rush transcript]

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: I also want to get to, before the end of the show, what’s happening in Yemen. The anti-government demonstrations have entered their sixth day. Al Jazeera reports student demonstrators were beaten by pro-government supporters, armed with batons, with stones, with daggers. Agence France-Presse is reporting that three journalists have been injured. The protesters are calling for the immediate resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled the country for three decades.

I want to turn right now on the ground to Iona Craig. She is an English-speaking journalist based in Sana’a, editor of Yemen Times. As we return to you, just very quickly, tell us what is happening today.

IONA CRAIG: Today there were further clashes. But despite some of the media reports that you may have seen, the numbers were not huge. They weren’t in the thousands; they were in the tens. But once again, there were beatings, and there were stones thrown. The government has been quite organized in getting their supporters out in the streets. I’ve seen them being bused in to the university, handed placards for the president, and then handed sticks. And that’s men as well as children, that don’t look any older than 12 years old, being handed sticks to then participate in protests that have then ended up with clashes.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much. We’re going to keep people updated in all of these cases. Iona Craig with the Yemen Times, speaking to us from Sana’a, Yemen; Elias Filali, activist and blogger who helped organize the protests in Algeria; and Faraz Sanei, researcher in the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch focusing on Iran and Bahrain, in this rolling rebellion through the Middle East.

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