On Monday, unidentified gunmen fired at the car of Yassin Saeed Numan, who serves as the secretary general of Yemen’s Socialist Party, which opposed ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh. He was not hurt in the attack, but it deeply rattled his supporters, as another top politician from the Socialist party, the county’s Transport Minister, has already survived three assassination attempts in the past few months, the latest of which took place just last weekend.
Yemen’s former president was ousted from power in February 2012 by a popular uprising. The country is now ruled by Abdrabu Mansour Hadi, who was elected in February as president for a two-year transitional period. So far, the transition has been a turbulent one. The country’s security situation is still very fragile, as Al Qaeda remains active in the country and powerful tribal leaders, whose men are heavily armed, continue to clash frequently.
Yusra Dugheish is a dentist in Taiz. She took part in the protest Thursday.
We held a massive demonstration to denounce the attempt on Yassin Saeed Numan’s life. There were protesters as far as the eye could see down Taiz’s main avenue. They were not just from Numan’s Socialist Party; there were also people from several other parties and from human rights organisations.
Someone tried to assassinate Numan because he is among those who want to build a democratic, modern state. And some people clearly don’t want this. Since the revolution in Yemen, the transition to a more democratic state has stalled because of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who still has the support of a large part of the security forces and has loyal friends high up in the government’s ranks.
“One of the first things we need to do to curb the violence is pass a law outlawing guns”
We are fearful for the country’s future. Everybody that went out to protest in the streets is angry against all those who want to kill our dream of a better Yemen. Numan is not the only one who has nearly been killed.
There was also an attempt on the life of the Transport Minister, Waed Bathib, just a few days ago. Many people, including myself, believe he was targeted because he tried to cancel an agreement between Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, signed under the former government. This agreement gave an UAE company the task of developing the Yemeni port of Aden, but some suspect this deal was made to take business away from Aden in favour of the port of Dubai. Economically, it was a terrible deal for Yemen, but some people in the government must have profited from it.
[Back in May, unidentified assailants also hurled a hand grenade at the house of Yemen’s Information Minister. And two weeks ago, former regime loyalists attacked the Defence Ministry, leaving five people dead].
The security climate is getting worse and worse all over Yemen. We can’t let it go any further. That’s why we also took this protest as an opportunity to advocate for a law outlawing guns, which are rampant in my country. [Yemen, where nearly half of the population lives on less than 2 dollars per day, is second only to the United States in terms of firearm ownership].