Yemeni activist at risk as death toll mounts

Amnesty International has today urged the Yemeni authorities to ensure the safety of a prominent human rights activist after she was warned anonymously for allegedly passing information to the UN Security Council.Amal Basha, chairperson of the Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR), received a telephone warning via her office this morning telling her not to leave her home and to take extra precautions.The anonymous caller said Yemeni security forces believe that she briefed the UN Security Council about the current situation in Yemen, thereby “internationalizing” the country’s problems. Amal Basha says she has not provided any such briefing to the UN. “The Yemeni authorities must urgently investigate this threat against a leading human rights activist and take steps to ensure that those responsible for planning any action against Amal Basha’s life are quickly identified and brought to justice” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director.“Human rights activists must be able to go about their lawful work without threat or intimidation.”UN Security Council members were briefed yesterday on the situation in Yemen by UN officials in a closed session. The Council called for restraint and dialogue in Yemen but failed to agree on a statement.The Security Council met on a day when at least three more people were killed during ongoing protests in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. They included a SAFHR staff member.Yemeni Central Security forces attacked protesters with water cannons, tear gas, batons and live fire.Protesters were said to have thrown rocks in response to the use of force by security forces.Those shot dead by the security forces included Anis Ahmed Abdu Saeed al-Usaydi, a SAFHR employee aged 32. The others who died were named as Nasser Muhammed Hizam and Abdul Latif Muhammad Abdullah Muhammad Omar.Between 50 and 60 other protestors are reported to have been injured, many with gunshot wounds, when security forces opened fire on a demonstration by tens of thousands of protesters in Sana’a.President Ali Abdallah Saleh has ordered an investigation of the incident and directed the Ministry of Interior to arrest and bring to justice those involved, according to Yemeni state news agency reports.“It is high time that the Yemeni government prevents its security forces from using excessive force against peaceful protesters. The violence must be brought to an end – in reality, and not just in rhetoric,“ said Malcolm Smart.At least 120 people have been killed in months of anti-government protests in Yemen.Four female doctors on their way to attend to the injured at a field hospital in Sana’a were arrested by members of Yemeni security forces on Tuesday.All four, Dr Lamis Muhammad Saeed Dhafer, Dr Tasnim Ali al-Wafi, Dr Hiyam al-Qadesi, and Dr Iman al-Amisi were released at around midnight after civil society organizations had threatened that they would march to the Presidential Palace if they were not released.In a report entitled, Moment of Truth for Yemen , issued on 6 April 2011, Amnesty International called on the international community to play a more active role if Yemenis are to get accountability for the bloody killings.