Yemen must halt use of deadly force ahead of planned protest

11 May 2011

Amnesty International has called on the Yemeni authorities to stop using unnecessary deadly force against anti-government protesters, after security forces today opened fire on demonstrations in the capital Sana'a and the city of Ta’izz killing at least two people.

The call came ahead of planned marches on the presidential palace from the protest camp near Sana’a University.

According to Amnesty International’s latest figures, over 145 people have been killed in Yemen during months of demonstrations calling for an end to the 32-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"Security forces in Yemen must be immediately stopped from using live ammunition on unarmed protesters," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"The Yemeni government must allow its people to express their genuine grievances without fear of violence and killing. It must also ensure that justice is done for all those killed unlawfully while exercising their right to peaceful protest."

Eyewitnesses in Sana'a told Amnesty International that one man was killed today when security forces opened fire on protesters as they marched towards the Council of Ministers. Tens more are said to have been injured.

According to reports, security forces also shot dead one person in Ta’izz today. Dozens were wounded by gunfire.

An eyewitness in Ta’izz told Amnesty International that security forces have been using live ammunition on non-violent protesters marching towards government buildings in the city, killing at least eight people in the last four days, including today’s fatality.

In March, Yemen’s parliament passed an emergency law giving security forces extensive powers of detention without being bound by the Criminal Procedure Law, and imposing heavy restrictions on public assembly which could be used to ban demonstrations.

The emergency law has also given the authorities the power to suspend, seize and confiscate “all media… and means of expression”.