YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have emerged as important sources of alternative news about the bloody uprising in Yemen against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled this small Middle East country bordering Saudi Arabia for the past 32 years.
The Youtube video captured scenes from the capital city of Sana’a yesterday, where half a million protesters, backed by army defectors, gathered at Sana’a University in opposition to Saleh. Government forces killed three demonstrators near the capital city.
According to Amnesty International, more than 145 people have been killed since the unrest began three months ago, sparked by the protests that led to the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
A 22-year-old Yemeni student, Rafat Al-Akhali, has emerged as one of the leaders of the youthful uprising. Rafat is the founder of the Civic Coalition of Revolutionary Youth, or CCRY, a group started on Facebook in late March by student activists.
CCRY, which has over 6,000 followers on Facebook, organizes marches and publishes updates on Facebook and Twitter.
“At first every tent became a movement,” Rafat recalled. “There were some 465 separate groups all proclaiming themselves to be leaders of the revolution. But most of them only had about five members. It was chaos.”
Rafat helped to persuade the different groups to form an alliance that has become a key force in the movement to drive Saleh from power.
NPR’s Andy Carvin and Jeb Boone, a freelance journalist based in Sana’s, have been covering the uprising on Twitter. Amel Ahmed, New York law student, has gone to Yemen to cover the unrest on a blog called Awakening, which has a collection of YouTube videos.
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