By Jihan Anwar
Government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit and security of the people, nation or community; whenever any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, indefeasible right, to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal. – George Mason
This past week, for the first time in many months, the same chant which became a symbol of the Arab Spring again rung clear in Yemeni streets.
“The People. Want. The Fall of the Regime!” intoned a crowd of youths in front of Sana’a’s Cabinet building, two days after the second anniversary of Yemen’s Youth Revolution was commemorated. Upon reaching the ears of passers-by, it could almost have seemed an indication that a subdued revolutionary movement might just regain momentum.
Many of the young revolutionaries agree that considerations of freedom and justice were the main reasons for which many joined the Youth Revolution. Their aim was to seek change from a government ridden with injustice and incapable or unwilling to meet its citizens’ most basic needs.
Many revolutionaries now carry physical scars, testaments to their will to fight a government seen as oppressive and corrupt.
This past week, a new government’s forces attacked some of these same individuals where they had gathered peacefully, defenseless and, yes, already injured.
The revolutionaries who sustained serious injuries in the course of the revolution, who received promises from the transitional government that they would be provided with necessary medical treatment, recently launched a sit-in in front of the Cabinet building. Some even started a hunger strike as part of their appeal to government to make good on its promises.
It’s a sad irony that instead of receiving health care, they’ve been inflicted with additional wounds.
The Fall of the Regime.
“How can there be real change if the new government was the old regime’s accomplice in committing crimes?” a young man wondered aloud, as he stood surrounded by a vibrant crowd which had gathered outside the Cabinet building in support of the wounded protesters.
Another man carried a spent tear gas canister.
“This is Basindowa’s gift to the injured revolutionaries,” he said, before handing it around to those nearby.
A veiled woman raised a piece of cardboard on which ‘Enough!’ had been written. Enough suffering, enough injustice, enough violence… Injured revolutionaries came out because they had been injured on multiple levels and had endured their pain for well over a year.
This modest (for now) crowd is not the enemy. As with those people who marched two years ago, they are simply demanding their rights. As long as the government sees them as adversaries who need to be silenced, it will remain deaf to the plights of Yemen’s sons and daughters.
Governments are granted power and citizens’ obedience because they are expected to help improve those same citizens’ lives, while also allowing them to live with dignity.
When a government fails to live up to these standards, it must be vocally reminded of its shortcomings. Even when – or so it would seem – the citizens’ open wounds speak louder than words.