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A night at the Sana’a Sit-in

March 7, 2011

Last night I headed out to Sana’a University to catch up with the protesters who have been camped out there for three weeks calling for President Saleh to step down.

What started out as a handful of students shouting anti-government slogans in front of the university has since swelled into a mass sit-in. Two weeks ago the university was a dangerous place to be; violent clashes between protesters and baltagiyah – pro-Saleh thugs  – left at least one protester dead and scores of others injured.

But things are much calmer these days. In fact I’ve heard more than one person calling it the Sana’a festival. Based on what I saw last night that’s not a bad description. A famous Yemeni singer/comedian prancing across a decked-out stage filmed by thousands on their mobile phones, crafty entrepreneurs with makeshift kitchens on wheels selling corn on the cob and egg sandwiches to the festival goers, I mean protesters. Thousands of tents, some equipped with sofas and sound-systems, filled with guys chewing qat and generally having a good time.

Despite the jovialities these protesters remain a real problem for President Saleh. Every day their numbers grow bigger and more diverse. The thousands of students, shop-owners, tribesmen and opposition party members are showing no sign of going anywhere soon, on the contrary they seem to be in it for long haul.

Here’s a video I made of last night’s protests.


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