Yemen’s General Popular Congress (GPC) party leadership led a women's protest in front of late former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s Sanaa residence, recalling the atmosphere that pervaded the city on December 4 shortly before his murder.
The rally was staged on the occasion of Saleh’s birthday.
Iran-backed Houthi militias did not shy away from suppressing the protests carried out by their former coup partners, employing brute violence in the process.
Although GPC leaders officially stated that the rally was aimed at commemorating Saleh’s birthday, the Houthis interpreted the demonstration as an unprecedented security threat. Hundreds of gunmen were deployed in the vicinity of Saleh's house, witnesses told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Along with a number of armored and military vehicles, Houthis also deployed their female security forces, known as the Zeinabiyat to the scene, the witnesses said.
Despite stringent measures imposed by the Houthis, hundreds of women loyal to the former president and his party showed up for the protests. They had reached the main street right across Saleh’s residence just before the militias fired live ammunition to disperse them.
When an attempt to intimidate the demonstrators failed, the gunmen began assaulting them with batons and carried out a number of arrests.
Several protesters were injured, including leading GPC female figures Faiqa al Sayyed and Wafaa al Dayees.
A number of youths loyal to the former president, who resisted Houthis’ attempts to arrest the women, were also rounded up by militiamen. GPC sources said that the detainees were taken to unknown locations.
Brigadier General Tariq Salih, Saleh’s nephew, praised the female demonstrators and described them as fighters.
“Thank you to all the Yemeni women, and we will not let you down,” he said in a tweet.
Observers said that the tweet referred to the continued preparation by forces under his command to avenge the killing of Saleh.
In December, Saleh was murdered by the Houthis after he announced that he was severing ties with them and called for opening a new chapter of relations with the Arab-led Coalition. The militias have held his body, fearing a big turnout at his funeral that could turn into another uprising against their rule.