They Marched with Roses…

May 12, 2011

                                                                                                  Photo courtesy of Raja Althaibani

Thousands of protesters marched today armed with flowers. What they got in return was a hail of bullets and tear gas. Protesters had hoped to march to the Prime Minister’s building but were stopped just short of the Kuwaiti hospital when Saleh’s forces opened fire. At least ten have been confirmed dead, and hundreds more injured from tear gas and live rounds.

There was some major confusion among demonstrators when men dressed like General Ali Mohsen’s soldiers (who defected recently) opened fire on protesters. People initially thought that Mohsen had betrayed the cause. Later that night however, the explanation given was that soldiers from the regime’s Central Security infiltrated the protest dressed like Mohsen’s men. They reportedly shot into the air to make it appear as if Mohsen’s men were responding with gunfire. This way I was told, Saleh’s men would have an excuse to escalate the gunfight.

The gunfire was out of control at one point and seemed to be coming from everywhere. When soldiers began shooting into our street, protesters rushed me and another American reporter into a nearby barbershop. We remained there until the gunfire subsided, filming the sounds on the outside. As we hid, one protester outside was shot in the head. Opposition youth carried his body away and by the time we exited the shop, all that remained was the victim’s blood on the ground. One protester approached me with the victim’s keffiyeh, which was soaked in his blood. He asked me to tape it and show it to the world. Two female protesters were also reportedly kidnapped by Saleh’s forces and still have not been heard from.

During the march, protesters I spoke to were frustrated with the Gulf Cooperation Council’s inability to mediate between parties and said they no longer wanted the GCC to be involved. They also expressed disappointment with President Obama and questioned his silence. As a result of this sense of abandonment, the opposition have decided to escalate their protest activities, beginning with today’s march.

By the time I reached the makeshift hospital located inside the square, there were bodies lying everywhere. Doctors could not treat every one at once and did their best with what limited supplies they had. As the injured continued to pour in, medics became overwhelmed and began to appeal to local hospitals for help. The director here said they are in dire need of medical supplies and personnel, and asked the international community for help.

I am amazed by the protesters’ courage and selflessness. Whenever gunfire turned especially bad, protesters would shield me and another reporter from harm. At one point they formed a circle around us and I realized Tawakul Karman was standing right behind me. Protesters showed fearlessness in the face of gunfire and continued to advance long after I left the march and headed back to Change Square.

All day all I heard were gunshots, angry chants, and the cries of the wounded. It’s 2am now and the only sound I hear is that of my typing. It’s strange. I think I am only beginning to digest what happened, now that I am alone with my thoughts.

I wonder if my President plans to speak out against today’s shameful massacre.


One Response to “They Marched with Roses…”

  1. That’s a great picture. please post more!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: