The capital of Hadramout governorate saw a widespread civil disobedience campaign begin on Monday morning with much of the city’s public facilities and businesses closing down.
According to Nasser Baqzaqzur, a Southern Movement leader based in the city, the campaign lasted from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Hadba Al-Yazidi, a Mukalla-based correspondent working with the Al-Saeeda news outlet, said Southern Movement members had blocked off a number of streets in the city and set up makeshift checkpoints. He claimed the city’s schools and universities had closed down, and that a number of government facilities had officially given their employees the day off.
“The streets of Mukalla today were deserted,” said Al-Yazidi.
Health clinics, hospitals, electricity and water facilities were excluded from the campaign, according to Baqzaqzur.
Abdu Rabu Al-Asali, director of Human Resources at the Mukalla Water and Sewage Local Corporation, said his office chose to remain closed in spite of the exemption in order to avoid any possible riots or acts of vandalism.
Al-Asali pointed out that many protestors are armed with AK-47s, and he claimed that all government facilities had followed suit to avoid potential reprisals.
Baqzaqzur confirmed that armed members of the Southern Movement could be found throughout Mukalla, however he maintained that the movement’s leadership was against the use of violence, confrontations with security forces or attacks on buildings and institutions.
“Unfortunately, the proliferation of weapons throughout Mukalla in general means that many of those who took to the streets did so while armed,” he said.
Muhammad Qasim Al-Dhamari, a grocery store owner in Mukalla who is originally from Dhammar city in Dhammar governorate, part of the former North Yemen Arab Republic, says that he closed his store in fear of reprisals from armed Southern Movement members.
In the city’s Fouh Al-Mukalla neighborhood, security forces temporarily clashed with Southern Movement members who had been blocking a road and preventing drivers from passing through. Security forces attempted to disperse the demonstrators by firing into the air, but eventually withdrew to avoid an escalation.
Abdullah Al-Qaedi, an officer within the Ministry of Interior’s Mukalla city Operations Department, said that the call for civil disobedience was announced Sunday evening, and that security forces in the city had taken a decision then not to engage the Movement’s armed supporters in order to avoid exacerbating the situation.
Mohammad Bafrid, a member of the Southern Movement Coordination Council for protests in Mukalla city, claimed that no one was injured during the altercation.
“We’ll continue our escalations and campaign for civil disobedience every week until we achieve independence,” he added.
Abdul Rahman Bahahad, a resident of Mukallah who runs the Furniture Department of Yemen’s Economic Corporation, told the Yemen Times that he does not support the civil disobedience campaign.
“As southerners we have legitimate demands, including the return of land stolen by northerners and increased opportunities for employment, but this is not the way to do it,” he said. “Closing down streets and engaging in thuggery isn’t the way to effect change.”