Massive Crowd Buries Yemen Martyrs as More Officials Resign
Tens of thousands of people gathered in the Yemeni capital Sunday for the funerals of some of the 52 people martyred in a massacre against protesters committed by loyalists of President Ali Abdullah Saleh last Friday, as more officials close to Saleh offered their resignations from their posts in protest of the massacre.
Around 30 bodies were laid out in neat rows and the square near Sanaa University overflowed with mourners, who massed under tight security and despite a two-day-old state of emergency.
Waving Yemeni flags and shouting slogans denouncing the regime, the mourners formed a massive procession as they carried the bodies in coffins on their shoulders to the cemetery.
“Ali, the blood of the martyrs will not be in vain!” they chanted, referring to the president. “We sacrifice blood and soul for you, oh martyr,” they roared in tribute to the martyrs.
Politicians and civil society representatives joined the throng.
Ali Abed Rabbo al-Qadi, the head of the independent parliamentary bloc who was in the crowd, said those responsible for the killings must be “held responsible for every drop of blood that has been shed.”
Muslim clerics called on Yemeni soldiers to disobey orders to shoot demonstrators, and blamed Saleh – in power since 1978 – for the slaughter on Friday. “We call on the army and security forces to not carry out any order from anyone to kill and repress” demonstrators, a group of influential clerics in the deeply religious country said in a joint statement. They also called for Saleh’s elite Republican Guard troops to be withdrawn from the capital, where protesters have defied the state of emergency called after Friday’s violence and continued a sit-in.
Saleh had declared Sunday a national day of mourning for the “martyrs for democracy,” while blaming the opposition for “incitement and chaos” that had led to the killings.
Youth activists organizing the sit-in panned Saleh’s declaration as insincere. “After getting blood on his hands… he cried crocodile tears for the martyrs,” they said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Human rights minister Huda al-Baan announced late on Saturday that she was resigning in protest at Friday’s bloodbath, where the undersecretary at her ministry, Ali Taysir, has also stepped down.
Baan became the third Yemeni minister to quit in as many days, along with a host of senior officials and at least two ambassadors.
A report said that Yemen’s Ambassador to the UN Abdullah Alsaidi has also resigned following the violent crackdown on anti-government protesters in Sana’a.
On Saturday, Yemeni Ambassador to Lebanon Faisal Amin Abu al-Ras also quit his post to protest Saleh’s crackdown on anti-government protesters. The move by Abu al-Ras marked the first by a Yemeni envoy to protest Friday’s violence brought by government forces against protesters in the capital.