These Yemeni women, gathered in Sanaa to celebrate the death of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, predict the same fate for Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
A video showing a female protester shot dead by a sniper in the southern city of Taiz has prompted thousands of women to take to the streets in Yemen. Our Observers say the participation of women could breathe new life into the protest movement.
The death of Azizah Othman during an anti-government march could easily have gone unnoticed in the midst of the bloody repression currently taking place in Yemen. However the story of this 52-year-old woman, who was shot in the head on October 16 in the southern city of Taiz, inspired thousands of women to protest the very next day.
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In Taiz, women marched in memory of one of the city’s first “female martyrs”, while in the capital Sanaa, women protested outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At the same time, a rally in support of their cause was held in New York City, featuring Yemen’s most famous activist, Tawakkul Karman, who is one of the three women to have received the Nobel Peace Prize this year.
“Today, our role in the revolution is as important as the role of tribal leaders!”
Doctor Jamila Al-Kameli is an activist who lives in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital.
I took part in the womens’ protest in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sanaa. During our protest we too were attacked by [president Ali Abdullah] Saleh’s thugs even though we were absolutely peaceful. We still don’t know whether the sniper who killed Aziza Othman specifically targeted her or not, but we’re convinced that he had decided to target a woman.
Our demands are the same as those of other protesters: we want Saleh to step down and we want greater freedom of expression.
Life has changed quite a bit for women since the start of the revolt in February. Before, it was nearly impossible for a woman to go out and do her grocery shopping alone… Today, our role in the revolution is just as important as the role of the tribal leaders! People see us differently; they realise it is impossible to carry out a revolution without the help of half of the population.
I heard about the rally in New York City with Tawakkul Karman. We consider her to be a true lady. She is educated and shows others that change can be achieved through the written word and the spoken word, and in a peaceful manner. The truth is, all Yemeni women know how to use firearms, but we have chosen to remain peaceful.”
Tawakkul Karman at a rally in New York City.
“The longer Saleh hangs on to power, the more brutal his methods become”
Maryam Ali is a muslim feminist from Yemen. She currently lives in London.
I believe the aim of the sniper who killed Aziza Othman was to intimidate Yemeni women and stop them from protesting. We have come to realise that the longer Saleh hangs on to power, the more brutal his methods become; the regime is now attacking women and young children.
However, Othman’s murder will not deter women. On the contrary, it will incite many Yemeni women to go out and voice their anger in the streets. This movement is becoming international now: we’re planning a large demonstration on October 30 in London’s Trafalgar Square to condemn Othman’s murder and show our solidarity with women in Yemen.”
Women protesting Aziza Othman's killing in Taiz.
Above, anti-government protesters meet in Yemen's capital Sanaa following the death of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi. Photos courtesy of Avaaz.