This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.
Tens of thousands of protesters across Yemen rallied for and against President Ali Abdullah Saleh after Friday prayers.
Two protesters were shot dead in Yemen's second-largest city Aden on Friday, February 25, in what appears to be confrontations between anti-Saleh groups and police. At least 34 others have been wounded, most by live gunfire.
In the Yemen's capital Sanaa, people were especially worried about rivaling demonstrations scheduled for Friday, but no major incidents were reported. Around 10,000 pro-Saleh supporters rallied in Sanaa's Tahrir square, just four kilometers from where approximately 30,000 to 50,000 anti-Saleh protesters gathered at the University of Sanaa.
For and against the government
In the roughly two weeks since protests began in Yemen, an estimated 17 people have died and dozens hurt in clashes between anti-Saleh demonstrators and pro-government groups and security forces.
Since protests across the Middle East began to spread, opposition groups have squeezed concessions from Saleh, like a promise to not run in the 2013 presidential election and to enable more national political dialogue. Yet anti-government protesters (and outside observers) accuse pro-Saleh groups of hiring thugs to beat them with daggers and clubs.
After pro-Saleh groups shot and killed two anti-government protesters on Tuesday, February 22 (and wounded many others), President Saleh ordered police to offer “full protection” to anti-government protesters, and, if necessary, separate them from pro-government groups.
Yemen is arguably the poorest country in the region, and the mostly young anti-Saleh protesters have been demanding economic development and human rights. They say Saleh has been in power for too long (since 1978) and has reigned over a notoriously corrupt government with a poor human rights record.
Saleh supporters say his downfall would bring chaos to a country only 15 years removed from its last civil war with a southern secessionist movement. Yemen still faces multiple security issues, like an on-again off-again war with tribes on its northern border.
Here is a photo from the demonstration in Aden where one protester was killed and 19 others reported wounded. In a video uploaded to Twitpic by snuraddin, protesters chant: “Ali you bastard, our blood is not cheap.”
Aden is the former capital of what was once the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) before unifying with North Yemen in 1990 to form the current Republic of Yemen.
According to accounts on Twitter:
@aden_voice: Ali Abdullah Saleh's soldiers have no qualms about killing southerners and to fire live bullets in the head#Yemen #aden
@aden_voice: they are burning pictures of #President of Yemen and #Yemen Flag in alorood area Aden, #protesters demanding the independence of South #fb
@aden_voice: Security opens fire on the protesters at Camp Victory in Khormaksar and news of the martyrs and the wounded. South Yemen#Aden #Yemen #fb
@snuraddin: #protesters burn #tires in revenge of what happened to their #friends in AlAreesh #khormaksar #aden #yemen
The country's capital witnessed dueling protests today, and citizen caught a lot of the action in videos. A video uploaded by tomwfinn shows the sit-in at the University of Sanaa.
Here is a round-up of the day's events in Sanaa:
@JamjoomCNN: Prayers just finished – as soon as they were done entire crowd rose up chanting “People are calling for the fall of the regime” #Yemen #yf
@Yemen_2011:(Hashem @AJELive) cars w speakers infornt of pro-gov marchers #Yemen – plenty of banners – speaking of Dialogue committee by Prez -
@JamjoomCNN: One sign reads: “No to dialogue, no to negotiation” This crowd has one demand… That Saleh step down #Yemen #yf
@shephardm: Word on the street is that gov't loyalists getting about $20 + food and qat to stay at Tahrir Square. That's a lot of money here. #yemen.
@JamjoomCNN: Oppo. politician @ anti-govt demos today:”This is a people's protest. We're joining the youth to be among them and not to lead them.” #Yemen
@tomfinn__ Crowds are deafening here at Sana'a university #yemen there must be over 30,000 people
@JamjoomCNN: One student :”President Saleh is stubborn but our movement is a peaceful one and we'll keep coming day after day in greater numbers.” #Yemen
@shephardm: Talked with one pro-Saleh demonstrator who said wanted to show support so country wouldn't collapse. Wants to wait for elx in 2013. #yemen
@Abou_3ali: dozens of thousands at #Sanaa university today! So exciting!! More and more people there and so different… #Yemen #yf
@shephardm: But one cop raised his baton and came toward me when he saw my camera. Guess he didn't get the “be nice to journos memo” from pres. #yemen.
@gregorydjohnsen: Pro-Salih protests look fairly small on tv – anyone on the ground have a sense of numbers?ite
@gregorydjohnsen: I was there a couple of hours ago, can't have been more than 10,000 pro-Saleh supporters
@shephardm: Went inside military PR office known as 26th of September. A dozen video cameras. Wonder about “citizen journalists” on the street. #yemen.
@ionacraig: Single panicking soldier who aimed at protesters after firing in air nearly changed course of events today. Snr officer grabbed gun from him
@yemen4change: For security reasons, bloggers from #Yemen, please do NOT disclose your locations! There is gov wide crackdown on online bloggers
@ionacraig: Came closer than I'd like to being shot today, lost my phone and then a pro-saleh guy hit me round the knee with a stick by mistake. Bad day
@WomanfromYemen: liberals, islamists, socialists, young, old, students, unemployed, teachers, doctors, men, women etc at the protest #sanaa #yemen
@WomanfromYemen: overwhelmed w/joy at the peaceful and festive atmosphere today in #sanaa, #yemen. not sure how many ppl were there but i think around 50,000
@Abou_3ali: People prayed, ate, chanted, danced, chewed, at #Sanaa U. and it's still going on! LOVE IT!! Yalla ya shabab !! #Yemen #yf
Another video, titled “funeral of a martyr Liberty Square in taiz,” was uploaded by sadekmaktary
Finally, a video of the protests beginning immediately after Friday prayers, uploaded by @kasinof
@dia_assada: As Freedom Sq had no more capacity, inhabitants around the Sq opened their houses’ yards n roofs 4 prayer performers. #Taiz #Yemen
Here are some photos of protests in the city of Ibb, about 150 kilometers from the port of Aden.
This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.