Yemen: Investigate killing of activist at peaceful protest
The Yemeni authorities must investigate the killing of a political activist shot dead by security forces during a peaceful protest in the southern city of Aden today, Amnesty International said.Khaled Al-Junaidi, a leading activist in Yemen’s separatist Southern Movement, was leading a strike in the district of Crater when he was ordered out of his car by five masked security officers and shot in the chest.“This shocking, deliberate killing appears to be an extrajudicial execution prompted by Khaled Al-Junaidi’s peaceful activism promoting independence for southern Yemen,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.“The Yemeni authorities have an obligation under international law to ensure that an independent, impartial and prompt investigation into this killing is conducted, and that all those responsible are brought to justice, including anyone who ordered the killing.” Khaled Al-Junaidi, who had previously been arrested and tortured by the security forces on account of his political activism, was overseeing the peaceful strike in Crater in Aden. His role included documenting the protest from his car and taking photos. The car was stopped by the five masked officers, who wore official security forces uniforms and drove a security forces vehicle, in a location where officers were firing tear gas at the crowd.One of the officers shot and critically injured Khaled Al-Junaidi, who was then driven by the officers to a nearby hospital and left at the door, where he died.Khaled Al-Junaidi was last released from detention on 13 November, along with fellow activist Anwar Ismail, after being held without charge for three weeks. It was the fourth time he had been arrested over his involvement with the Southern Movement - also known as al-Hirak, a short form of its name in Arabic.Khaled Al-Junaidi and Anwar Ismail had both previously been tortured during detention. Khaled said that, on one occasion, he had spent a week hung by his wrists with handcuffs for 23 hours a day.Background The Southern Movement is a coalition of political opposition groups in southern Yemen that has been demanding secession from the north. Largely peaceful protests have been taking place sporadically since 2007 when retired soldiers from the south complained that they were not receiving the same treatment in employment, salary and pensions as soldiers from the north of the country. Since then, protests over discrimination against southerners evolved into demands for secession, which continued after the ousting of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011.The government’s response to these protests has been heavy-handed, with dozens of demonstrators killed. In many cases, they appear to have been shot dead despite posing no threat to security forces or others. Since 2007, the security forces have arrested and detained, in many cases arbitrarily, thousands of demonstrators and bystanders, as well as activists.