Amid the chaos and violence engulfing parts of Yemen’s capital, Sana, on Wednesday, thousands of protesters remain camped out in a central square, still calling on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.
As forces loyal to Mr. Saleh fought pitched battles with opposition tribesmen in parts of the city, thousands of protesters continued to occupy what they call “Change Square,” which is under the protection of a dissident general. My colleague Nasser Arrabyee reports from Sana that the shelling this week has convinced some protesters to leave the camp, but thousands remain in place.
Amel Ahmed, a freelance journalist in Sana, reported on Twitter on Wednesday night that representatives of the protesters in the square contacted reporters to say that they were concerned by rumors that they could be attacked by government forces during the night.
Two days ago, government security forces and plainclothes gunmen attacked a similar protest camp in the city of Taiz, killing dozens of protesters.
One of the protesters who slept in Sana’s protest camp on Tuesday night, a doctor named Hamza Shargabi, has been documenting the protest movement, in English, on Twitter and YouTube. On Wednesday morning, he joked on his ichamza Twitter feed that he has become so used to the sound of explosions that he had “very calm sleep,” as the fighting raged near the square overnight.
For outsiders accustomed to seeing Yemen’s protests mainly through brief clips of demonstrations and clashes, Dr. Shargabi’s video blog updates — which he posts on his YouTube channel and his blog, Late Night Surgery — offers a fascinating window into the protest movement.
Speaking in English, and occasionally wearing a Harvard baseball cap, Dr. Shargabi relays updates on the protest movement to his viewers and discusses developments with other English-speaking activists in the square.
With the help of a local cinematographer, Aimen Kasem, Dr. Shargabi’s video blog has evolved from somewhat rough beginnings into a guided tour of the revolution, featuring everything from an open letter to the American ambassador to sophisticated video reports on aspects of the movement, like the role of Islam. One update, filmed during a recent power cut, was even shot as an M. Night Shyamalan parody.
Here is Dr. Shargabi’s most recent update, filmed late last week in his tent in the square, in which he described the new fighting but insisted: “We’re still here, we still matter, our revolution is still peaceful and we’re going to overthrow the regime.”