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Amnesty International Expresses Grave Concern for Demonstrators in Yemen as Authorities Step Up Crackdown on Peaceful Protests
Demonstrations Met with Assaults Including Use of Guns, Hand Grenades, and Beatings
NEW YORK - February 18 - Amnesty International said today it was gravely concerned about Yemen’s excessive force to control anti-government demonstrations as eyewitnesses reported new assaults on peaceful protesters that included beatings, gunshots and an attack with a hand grenade.
Amnesty International again called on the Yemeni authorities to allow peaceful protests and to stop excessive force to break up demonstrations.
At least six Yemeni protesters taking part in what appears to have been a peaceful sit in were reportedly seriously injured in the city of Ta’izz when security forces attacked them with what eyewitnesses described as a hand grenade, with dozens more also injured.
Meanwhile, activists in the capital Sana’a told Amnesty International today that they had been surrounded by security forces, aided by men described as “thugs,” who were firing at them and beating them.
“The Yemeni authorities seem to be stepping up their crackdown on protesters and we are gravely concerned that if that continues, the death toll will inevitably rise,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director.
“Yemen’s government must allow people to peacefully assemble and protest.”
Eyewitnesses in Ta’izz told Amnesty International that plain clothes men believed to be members of the security forces, or individuals colluding with them, opened fire from civilian cars on protesters who had been staging a week-long sit-in in the city’s central Safir Square.
Security forces stationed close to the square reportedly did nothing to protect the protesters.
Eyewitnesses in Sana’a told Amnesty International that they had been surrounded and attacked by security forces and “thugs”.
“We are trying to hide but the security forces are pointing out our locations to the thugs. We are very scared, particularly because there are children with us. We’ve tried to get the children out of the area but the security forces have not allowed us to do so,” one activist told Amnesty International today.
The Yemeni authorities’ crackdown on protesters calling for political reform has persisted for several days.
Yesterday, protesters and journalists were reportedly attacked at demonstrations around the country, leaving at least 10 people injured.