Yemeni security forces must not violently repress anniversary protests

News and Press Release
Originally published

The Yemeni authorities must end the routine violent repression of freedom of assembly by its security forces, Amnesty International said ahead of mass demonstrations planned tomorrow in the south of the country.

Protest marches organized by the Southern Movement, which demands a peaceful secession from the rest of Yemen, are due to converge in the city of Aden on Thursday.

The protest, which marks the first anniversary of the election of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, comes 10 days after security forces opened fire at a similar peaceful demonstration in Aden, killing two.

"The Southern Movement and its followers have a right to protest peacefully, and the Yemeni authorities must allow them this right," said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa programme

"That means that security forces deployed to police these demonstrations must refrain from using excessive, lethal force against peaceful protesters, something they have failed to do in the recent past."

On 11 February, Central Security Forces opened "indiscriminate fire" on protesters marching to Aden, eye witnesses told Amnesty International.

A man on a bus and a 14-year-old girl travelling in a car were killed, while several others were said to have been wounded by live fire allegedly from security forces.

Two days earlier, Central Security Forces in the street shot dead a pregnant woman in her home while apparently trying to disperse a Southern Movement sit-in in Aden.

On 4 July 2012, Central Security Forces and snipers opened fire on a peaceful march in Aden, killing three people.

In October 2012, security forces stormed the house of Fairouz Nasser Ahmed in Aden, in an apparent attempt to arrest some wanted men. According to the statement given by her family to the General Directorate of Criminal Investigation, security forces opened fire indiscriminately, killing Fairouz in her bedroom. She and others in the house are not believed to have posed a risk to the lives of security forces.

In 2012 alone, at least a dozen people were killed and dozens wounded as a result of security forces and pro-government supporters use of excessive, including lethal force against protesters in Aden.

"Time and again in Yemen the security forces, particularly Central Security Forces, have shown total disregard for human life, killing and injuring peaceful protesters and bystanders," said Harrison.

"In the marches converging on Aden this week, Yemeni security forces must ensure that international policing standards on the use of force are strictly adhered to, and must respect the peaceful protesters’ right to freedom of expression and assembly.”