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January 16, 2012

The Yemeni Woman who brought change ... from her Beirut laptop!

January 16, 2012

January 16, 2012

Hind Aleryani is a well-known name among Arab activists on Twitter. She is the Yemeni woman who challenged Reuters' biased reporting in Yemen. After launching #shameonreuters campaign, Hind and her comrades succeeded in gaining the media's attention, and finally in convincing Reuters that it was time to change its reporter whose other job was the dictator's personal translator. Her success led her to another, with the launch of No Qat campaign that proved to be a sign of Yemen's pro-active revolutionary youth.

The Arab Digest has interviewed Hind on her new media activism:

1. What is your political and social/family background?

I came from a well known big family in Yemen, many of them are politicians.

2. When did you move from Yemen and why? What were the reasons for picking Beirut?

I moved in 2005 with my family, I didn't pick Beirut..Beirut picked me:)

3. You took a leading role in the #shameonreuters campaign, what sparked it?

During the revolution, we noticed that Reuters was reporting distorted news about the revolution, especially on what was happening in Tai'z (when the government was shelling Freedom Square). They said it's a fight between tribes, although we saw the video...people were getting killed during Friday prayers. I was telling this to someone from Yemen and his answer was very shocking! ... He said that their reporter is Saleh's personal translator, and I was even more shocked when I realized that all Yemenis know that and they don't find it strange. Then I tweeted it to a journalist but she couldn't believe it. When many Yemenis told her that it is, in fact, true, the news was everywhere, whether on Twitter or on blogs ... and finally the media (TV, newspapers) mentioned it. Once NYTimes and the Washington Post reported on it, Reuters announced that he won't work as their reporter in Yemen any more.

4. After the success of #shameonreuters, you embarked on another campaign, the no qat in jan 12, how do you describe the campaign? Was it a success? Any new campaign plans?

No Qat Day campaign was different from #ShameOnReuters, because it is not just a campaign online. It had to be on the ground and most Yemenis are in Facebook not Twitter. So we made this event Activists on Twitter and Facebook kept posting about the No Qat day #NoQatJan12, but it got bigger when Tawakkol Karman, Azmi Bshara and Ali Dferry supported it by writing about it on their facebook status and twitter. The activists in Sanaa distributed posters in different universities, and in Taiz, there was a tent just for the campaign to talk about Qat for awareness. Many organizations that were against Qat found it a chance for them to talk more about the issue and why we should fight it. I believe it was successful because once again, it launched the debate about Qat. I have never seen Yemenis talk about Qat like they did during the campaign. I never planned for any campaign, but we are trying to include a lesson about Qat in schools' Curriculum that talks about its negative impact on the economy, agriculture and health. We are hoping that the new minister in Yemen will listen to our request in light of the ongoing changes.

5. How do you assess Yemen's transition so far?

Yemen is facing many difficulties. What matters now is the economic collapse, the rising poverty (even the rich are having a hard time). The transition can't go on as long as Saleh is still in his palace giving orders.


Links on the success of No Qat campaign

The Coordinating Council of the Youth Revolution of Change (they distributed 20,000 posters around the universities in Sanaa)
France 24 (they are talking about the campaign at the end of the video)
Announcing the campaign at the change square:
Hiking instead of Qat :)


The Star (And other American newspapers which took the same article from The Star) Yemen's activists target popular narcotic: Qat

Daily Maverick, A Qat Above the rest:

The National: Yemen campaign urges 'a day without qat:'

(photo: Yemeni students hold a no qat campaign poster)


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