Protesters attacked as Yemen steps up crackdown
Amnesty International has urged the Yemeni authorities to stop using excessive force to control anti-government demonstrations as continued violence against protesters across the country reportedly left several wounded.
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 today 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 issuing beatings.
“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.