By Maram Alabassi
Students at Sana’a University continued to demonstrate against the military presence on their campus. Students have been protesting for months against the military presence of First Armored Division (FAD) forces at Sana’a University.
These demonstrations are not against the FAD in particular, said protesters, but against any military presence on campus.
“We will continue protesting because our demands have not been met,” said one of the organizers, Afra’a Ali Aljabori.
“Officials said after the last demonstration that they would replace military soldiers with guards, but there are still soldiers on our campus,” student organizer Hani Algonaid said.
Student Husam Radman said that this demonstration represents students’ dreams “of a university without a military presence, this institution will help us move toward a more civil state.”
“All we’re asking for is for freedom at our university and guards who can protect the campus without interfering in student’s personal lives,” Afra’a said.
Students have always been harassed by security, said Afra’a, by the military forces have made their situation worse.
The soldiers double as preachers, by advising men and women to keep distance from each other—when they’re not too busy harassing female students, said Afra’a. Women from the university have filed complaints against the soldiers.
“How can we build a civil country if our universities are not yet civil,” Radman said.
Students chanted, “I am a student and I have rights,” in addition to, “this is our university, not a military base.”
Naseem Jamal, a graduate student who lives on campus, said that the campus used to be safer and instances of harassment were rare.
“Whenever we see soldiers, we feel as though we’re on a battlefield,” Jamal said.
Mohammed Albokhaiti, a soldier assigned to the campus, said he is there only to protect students.
“If there’s an attack, who will protect them? Not security guards. They don’t have weapons and aren’t trained for such a task,” Albokhaiti said. “If students have complaints, they must present evidence against soldiers. If they have no evidence, they have nothing to protest about,” he added.
Students have pledged to continue demonstrating until the military presence is ended. Soldiers say students are privileged to have such protection. Officials had no comment.