> Cracks appear
in Yemen's unity
> Chiara Onassis | 27 March 2012 |
SANA'A: Only a month after Yemen came together and elected President Abdu
Rabbo Mansour Hadi in a one-man race, hoping that this break from the former
regime and would herald a new era of cooperation, reconciliation and the
building of a unified civil state, southerners are growing restless.
With politicians and secessionists calling for an escalation of the protests
and threatening to defect from the republic, other actors in the South are
taking active steps towards secession.
Strangely, not accounted by the media, the move operated by lawyers,
journalists and other professionals is quite significant, showing that
intellectuals already checked out, getting away from all association with
Wanting to make a point and express their deep discontent, professionals and
intellectual began leaving the country's syndicates and associations,
marking what could be a turning point in North versus South dialogue.
After five years of popular demonstrations that coalesced into the Southern
Movement, workers from the south, including lawyers, journalists and
artists, have began leaving the syndicates and associations based in the
This show of independence is expected to heighten tensions with the north
and add yet more challenges for the national unity government and the newly
Since the creation of the Southern Movement in 2007, there has been a youth
association that separated itself from the youth association in Sana'a in
2010. The Southern Youth Association was established by the son of a
Southern Movement leader, Fadi Hassan Baoam.
Similar unions have surfaced, particularly in 2011 and 2012, to increase
support for demands of southern independence.
The Southern Women's Association, the Southern Artists' Association, the
Preparation Committee for the Southern Journalists' Syndicate, and the Bar
Association were all announced early this year.
There are indications that other unions will be formed by activists in the
Southern Movement covering engineers and doctors.
On March 7, one day ahead of International Women's Day, a ceremony was
organized in Aden where women leaders of the Southern Movement declared the
Southern Women's Association. It was announced as a female entity that
struggles for the declared goals of the Southern Movement.
During the ceremony, head of the new association, Eman Ali Ahmed, affirmed
that the Southern Women's Association in Aden was based upon one major goal,
the independence of the south.
On February 15, activists of the Southern Movement resurrected The Southern
Artists' Union, which had been suspended 21 years before. Artists from all
of Yemen's southern governorates attended.
The emergence of these southern based unions are paving the way for unions
covering other categories of workers.
A large group of southern journalists held a consultative meeting on March
11 in Aden, with the aim of creating an independent southern journalist
syndicate, and separating from the Yemeni Journalists' Syndicate (YJS) based
They formed a preparatory committee to coordinate and communicate with all
other news institutions and southern journalists, with the hope of declaring
the new syndicate in the upcoming weeks. The meeting was considered as a
formal declaration of independence from the YJS.
In the consultative meeting, the southern journalists and writers discussed
the mechanisms of the future syndicate, and the importance of creating a
syndicate that cared for media in the south, conveyed a message to the
world, and protected the rights of journalists covering the southern cause.
In an ironic twist, the meeting was attended by the Deputy Chairman of the
Yemeni Journalist Syndicate, Mohammad Saeed Salem.
The day following the journalists' actions, a large group of southern
lawyers declared independence from the Yemeni Lawyers Union and formed a
preparation committee for the Southern Lawyers' Union.
Lawyers said in a statement that Mohammad Ali Al-Saqaf and Yahya Ghalib
Al-Shoaibi had been tasked to represent the southern advocates at the Arab
Lawyers' Union, and seek membership within that union.
The meeting elected Badr Basaneed, Raqia Homaidan, Mohammed Nasser
Al-Awlaqi, Saeed Al-Isaee, Mohammad Mahmoud Nasser and Salah Al-Din Al-Hamid
as members of a supervision committee to prepare for a general conference of
the new union.
Resurrecting pre-unity state institutions
It was clear in all the recently formed unions that the participators were
keen to host leaders of the Supreme Council of the Southern Movement, and
those leaders were careful to take part and support the new unions.
Activists of the Southern Movement consider that the resumption of the trade
union entities that existed before the unification is one step in a journey
of a thousand miles to recover the state institutions that were in force
before the unity of May 22, 1990.
Abdul-Salam Jabir, who was asked to prepare for a Southern Journalists'
Syndicate, says that that the goal behind the creation of the syndicate is
the revival of southern state institutions, stressing that the syndicate
will assume its responsibility to defend press freedoms in the south.
While the leadership of the Yemeni Journalist Syndicate in Sana'a and its
branch in Aden stayed silent regarding these movements, the writer and
journalist Fathi Abu Al-Nasr described the creation of such a union as a
chauvinistic policy aiming to punish the YJS because of its positive stance
towards Yemen's peaceful revolution.
"Southern opponent journalists were supposed to operate to correct any
faults and imbalances of the YJS, and make it responsive to the demands of
the general assembly, not to deepen divisions at this critical time," said
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Received on Tue Mar 27 2012 - 07:24:46 EDT