Photographer Captures the Drama of Conflict Between Soldiers and Protestors

National Yemen

Conflict Between Soldiers and Protestors

Report and Photos By Amira Al-Sharif

After touring the capital city of Sana’a, I thought that the city was a large military encampment and nothing could bring me hope until I saw my neighborhood rise up and remove security solders with their sand bag barriers.

As I sat in my dark room waiting for the one random hour of power a day, I heard clashes in the street growing louder pushing me and my curiosity to my bedroom window to see what was happening. After I looked out the window, I witnessed a large number of youth from my neighborhood moving military sand barriers from the roads – at any cost. The peaceful protest turned into a hotspot of activity as more young men and soldiers arrived trying to seek an end the confrontation.

I could hear one of the people from the neighborhood sarcastically say, “Ha, they claim it is a peaceful revolution, but how is this possible with these sandbags?” So they decided remove the sand barriers.

The sand bags were previously placed in the neighborhood when Brigadier General Mohammed Khalil, who defected from the Yemen army under the leadership of Ali Mohsein Al-Ahmer, decided to overtake the Al-Osimi neighborhood with his soldiers and military artillery. The military escalation brought fear to supporters and dissenters of the government in the surrounding area forcing many of them to leave.

As a result of the military movement, both dissenters and supporters of the regime expanded their presence in the neighborhood and built more barriers made of sand bags for military protection.

Luckily by 7:30 in the evening, I was able to use my camera, even from a difficult angle, to capture the growing dispute between the first armored division soldiers and the enthusiastic youth that were ready to sacrifice themselves to remove the military sand bag barriers.

As I witnessed the clashes breaking out from my window, the youth were able to remove over 30 sandbags throughout the Al-Osimi neighborhood, the Saba roundabout, Hasabah Street. The voice of wisdom ended up being the winning party as no one was injured.

Amira Al-Sharif Discusses her Photography with National Yemen

These photos are blurred as the light environment was difficult making it difficult to focus in the dark. The only available light was the small lights from the cell phones in the hands of the people in the picture. The main lights that enter into the photos are from the cars that passed by the street. As the cars were irregular and infrequent,  I had to wait until I was able to get enough light to focus on the to illuminate the street and the characters of my photos. I did not have a tripod and I often moved between the windows in my kitchen and bedroom to get a good angle shoot the photos from my window. I moved with caution as I did not want to expose myself endangering me and my family. As a photographer, I always remember that I am now a primary target. Adding to the danger, I was afraid that the men may have thought I was a sniper, and then I definitely would be a target. My only choice was then to keep still, hold my breath, and patiently wait until I captured the right photos.

I took these photos during a period of 3 hours on the night of Saturday, October 23. The 12 photos were selected after a hard edit from the 109 total photos I took that night. Many of the photos I took were black or overexposed. I shot these pictures through my room window with my Nikon D2000 and two lenses (70mm and 28mm). I began with my 70mm but due to the difficult lighting, I had an aperture of f/4.0, a shutter speed of 2 seconds, an ISO of 1600 (the highest ISO my camera could reach). As a result of these numbers, I switched to my 28mm lens where I had an aperture of f/4.0, a shutter speed of 2-5 seconds, and an ISO of 1600.