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Yemen: A tale of two protests

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  • #61

    March 18, 2011 -- Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president, has declared a nationwide state of emergency, after a violent crackdown on anti-government protests killed at least 41 people, and left scores more wounded, in the capital Sanaa. Saleh said on Friday that the decision to impose the state of emergency was made by the country's national security council, but there was no immediate indication of how long it would last. The Reuters news agency reported Saleh as saying that it was clear that there were "armed elements" amongst anti-government protesters, and that the clashes earlier in the day were between citizens and protesters, not protesters and security forces.

    At least 41 people were killed and scores wounded after the Yemeni security forces opened fire on protesters at University square, in the capital Sanaa. Security forces opened fire in attempts to prevent protesters from marching out of the square where they were gathered, sources said. Medical sources said the death toll was likely to rise. Pro-government "thugs" also opened fire on protesters from houses close to University square, witnesses told the AFP news agency. Muttahar al-Masri, the country's interior minister, put the death toll at 25, and said that a curfew was being imposed as part of the state of emergency. Friday's attack came as tens of thousands gathered across the country, continuing to demand that Saleh - the country's ruler of 32 years - step down. Al Jazeera correspondents in Sanaa reported that many protesters were shot in the head and neck; most of the injured were shot with live ammunition. Medics at a nearby medical centre told Al Jazeera almost 200 people were injured; many were in critical condition. One medic called the attack a "massacre".

    Anti-government demonstrations were also held in other cities including Taiz, Ibb, Hodeidah, Aden, and Amran following Muslim midday prayers on Friday. "They want to terrorise us, They want to drag us into a cycle of violence to make the revolution meaningless," said Jamal Anaam, an anti-government protester. "It is a massacre," said Mohammad al-Sabri, an opposition spokesman. "This is part of a criminal plan to kill off the protesters, and the president and his relatives are responsible for the bloodshed in Yemen today." The opposition says that there is no longer any possibility of talks with Saleh's government. "We condemn these crimes," said Yassin Noman, rotating president of Yemen's umbrella opposition group. "There is no longer any possibility of mutual understanding with this regime and he has no choice but to surrender authority to the people."

    Hissam Youssef, the chief of staff of the Arab League's secretary-general, told Al Jazeera that the body would be meeting to hold consultations on the latest violence in Yemen. "What is happening in Yemen is extremely disturbing and it is a source of deep concern ... We have a clear position in relation to how to deal with people who are demonstrating peacefully, since this is their right. And we also feel that governments have to respond positively to the demands that are being placed by the people in different places. The situation in Yemen has been considered, but now the situation is escalating - we have asked for dialogue, we have asked for responding positively to the demands and concerns of the people, and we are continuing our consultations in this regard."

    Ahead of the protests, hundreds of police patrolled the streets of Sanaa and elite forces set up fortifications around the presidential compound, ministries and the headquarters of Yemen's ruling party. Government forces have previously used live fire, rubber bullets, and tear gas on anti-regime rallies, in the government's increasingly violent crackdown on protests. Yemen, the Arabian Peninsula state neighbouring oil giant Saudi Arabia, has been hit by weeks of protests set in motion by uprisings in North Africa that toppled long-serving leaders in Tunisia and Egypt and spread to the Gulf states of Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia. Saleh has maintained a firm grip on power for over three decades and has scoffed at calls to step down, saying he will only do so when his current term of office expires in 2013. Despite violence and threats, anti-government protesters refuse to cease demonstrating until Saleh's ouster. Hashem Ahelbarra, Al Jazeera's Yemen correspondent, said that Saleh is now faced with a clear choice. "He basically has two options. To say 'dialogue', but then the people will ask him we need guarantees and you have to implement them now; if he says 'No, I'm holding out', then there's going to be bloodshed." Ahelbarra also said that there is little faith in the Arab League amongst Yemenis. "People in Yemen have no faith in the Arab League, they don't think that the Arab League can bring any solution to this crisis which is evolving now."

    In a statement on Friday, Barack Obama, the U.S. president, condemned the violence in Yemen, saying that President Saleh should honour a pledge to allow peaceful demonstrations. Hillary Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state, said on Friday that the U.S. wishes to see a "political solution" to the crisis. "With regard to Yemen, our message remains the same. The violence needs to end, negotiations need to be pursued in order to reach a political solution." Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, also condemned the violence. "I am dismayed by the reports coming from Yemen. I have repeatedly and unreservedly condemned the use of violence against protesters in Sanaa and other cities, and the loss of life," she said in a statement. "Human rights and fundamental freedoms must be fully respected. President Saleh must stand by his commitments to uphold the right to peaceful protest, as he announced on 10 March. I ask him to stop violence now," she said.

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    • #62

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      • #63

        March 18, 2011 -- At least one journalist was killed when Yemeni security forces opened fire on protestors in the capital Sanaa today, according to news reports and local journalists. Jamal Ahmed al-Sharabi was shot while covering the violent crackdown on Change Square for Al-Masdar independent newspaper, Yemeni Journalists Syndicate spokesperson Thuraya Dammaj told IPI by email today. Al-Sharabi was also a member of the group Journalists for Change, reports say, and worked in media management at the Supreme Committee for Elections and Referendum, according to Dammaj. The Yemeni government has come under heavy criticism for the use of live ammunition against peaceful protestors; reports say that at least 30 people, including children, were killed and many more wounded. “Our condolences go out to Jamal al-Sharabi’s family, friends and colleagues,” said IPI Press Freedom Manager Anthony Mills. “We are disturbed by allegations that al-Sharabi may have been killed by security forces, and urge the authorities to conduct a full investigation. It is unacceptable that journalists reporting on the ongoing uprisings in the Arab world be made to pay with their lives just for doing their job.”

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        • #64

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          • #65

            Samedi 19 Mars 2011 -- Les manifestants de l'Université à Sanaa se disaient samedi plus que jamais déterminés à maintenir leur sit-in en dépit de la répression sanglante de leur mouvement qui a fait 52 morts vendredi. "Nous ne lâcherons pas jusqu'à la chute du boucher", le président Ali Abdallah Saleh, ont scandé les manifestants qui ont reçu le renfort de milliers d'enseignants et d'enseignantes de la capitale, venus les rejoindre. "Nous ne quitterons la place qu'après le départ de Saleh et de ses fils", qui tiennent et dirigeant l'essentiel de l'appareil de sécurité du régime, ont aussi crié les manifestants.

            Les tirs attribués par les manifestants aux partisans du régime ont fait 52 morts ce qui fait de la journée de vendredi la plus sanglante depuis le début de la contestation du président Saleh, fin janvier. "Le bilan s'élève maintenant à 52 morts et 126 blessés, après le décès de plusieurs personnes atteintes par balles", a indiqué un des médecins de l'hôpital de fortune installé près du lieu du sit-in. Le dernier bilan de ces tirs, les plus meurtriers depuis le début de la contestation du régime fin janvier, communiqué vendredi soir de sources médicales, faisait état de 46 tués et de dizaines de blessés. Des renforts de police ont été déployés sur place samedi. Le président Saleh a regretté vendredi ces morts mais annoncé l'instauration de l'état d'urgence dans le pays et demandé que les manifestants évacuent la place de l'Université, au centre de Sanaa, symbole de leur mobilisation.

            Peu après, le président américain Barack Obama l'a exhorté à autoriser le déroulement des manifestations. "Je condamne fermement les violences qui se sont produites aujourd'hui au Yémen", a déclaré M. Obama dans un communiqué, et il a appelé "le président Saleh à tenir sa promesse d'autoriser les manifestations à se dérouler pacifiquement". Les Etats-Unis considèrent M. Saleh comme un allié dans la guerre contre Al-Qaïda qui est largement implanté dans le sud-ouest de ce pays pauvre où l'Etat contrôle mal les zones tribales.

            L'opposition qui exige le départ de M. Saleh, au pouvoir depuis 32 ans, a qualifié les incidents de "massacre", un thème qui a été largement repris samedi par les orateurs qui s'adressaient d'une tribune aux manifestants. "De quel droit le boucher et terroriste Ali Abdallah Saleh se permet-il d'instaurer l'état d'urgence alors qu'il est devenu une personne recherchée pour avoir commis un massacre contre le peuple", a clamé l'un des orateurs. L'état d'urgence donne en théorie aux forces de l'ordre la latitude de réprimer les manifestations et aux autorités le pouvoir de restreindre les libertés publiques pour imposer l'ordre. Les manifestants ont indiqué avoir pris la décision de "ne pas enterrer les martyrs du vendredi sanglants jusqu'à la chute du régime".

            À Aden, ville du sud à la pointe de la contestation du régime, quatre personnes ont été blessées, dont l'une par balle, lorsque des policiers et des soldats ont tiré samedi sur des manifestants tenant une barricade dans le quartier de Moalla à Aden, ont rapporté des témoins. Les forces de l'ordre cherchaient apparemment à démanteler la barricade en place depuis deux semaines mais n'ont pas réussi à le faire, selon ces témoins. L'un des manifestants a été touché par balle et les trois autres par des tirs de grenades lacrymogènes, selon ces mêmes témoins qui indiquent que des manifestants se sont ensuite dirigés vers un poste de police avec l'intention de le brûler.

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            • #66

              SANAA, March 19, 2011 — Yemen has ordered two Al-Jazeera television correspondents to leave the country, saying they were working illegally and had acted unprofessionally, Saba state news agency said Saturday. An information ministry official was quoted as saying Ahmed Zidan and Abdulhaq Saddah had "provoked the people of Yemen" with their news coverage. The report did not say exactly what it was the two men had done to merit their expulsion. The news comes a day after snipers killed 52 anti-regime protesters in Sanaa in the latest wave of protests that has killed at least 70 people since they erupted in January. In the Friday violence, Yemeni photojournalist Jamal al-Sharaabi, who worked for the independent weekly Al-Masdar, was shot dead by Yemeni security forces, media rights groups reported. Saba reported on Wednesday that Yemen has expelled four foreign journalists whom it accused of violating its residency laws. Media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has identified them as two Britons - Oliver Holmes and Portia Walker - and two Americans - Haley Sweetland Edwards and Joshua Maricich.RSF has also said that another U.S. journalist, Patrick Symmes, and his Italian photographer, Marco Di Lauro, were deported last week.

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              • #67

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                • #68

                  March 20, 2011 CNN) -- Yemen's minister of human rights, Huda al-Baan, has resigned after a government crackdown on protesters resulted in the deaths of 52 people last week, an official in her office said Sunday. The official did not want to be identified as he or she is not authorized to speak to the media. In addition to the fatalities, more than 100 people were hurt Friday in clashes between tens of thousands of anti-government protesters and security forces outside Sanaa University in the Yemeni capital, medical officials on the scene said. President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced that a state of emergency had been declared, and he expressed his "deep regret" over the casualties. Witnesses said the clashes began after government supporters and anti-government demonstrators threw rocks at each other. Security forces shot into the air and then into the crowd; they also fired tear gas to try to disperse the crowd, witnesses said. Yemen has been wracked by weeks of unrest, with thousands protesting Saleh's government. High unemployment has fueled much of the anger among a growing young population steeped in poverty. The protesters also cite government corruption and a lack of political freedom. The president has said he will not run for another term in the next round of elections. He also has pledged to bring a new constitution to a vote by the end of the year and transfer government power to an elected parliamentary system.

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                  • #69

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                    • #70

                      March 20, 2011 -- A group of Yemen's influential clerics called on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down in order to appease the protesters and end the violence, the Yemen Post reported Sunday. Clerics gathered at the residence of Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, the leader of Hashed - which is Saleh's tribe - issued a statement asking the president to respond positively to the people's demands, dpa reported. The statement comes a day after another cleric, Sheikh Abdul-Majid Al-Zindani, said Saleh can transfer power to Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi to prepare for the end of the president's 32-year rule. Security forces have repeatedly attacked protesters calling for Saleh's ouster. About 50 people died and hundreds were injured in Friday's assault in Sana'a, increasing public anger against Saleh. Huge crowds joined Sunday's burial procession of some of the victims, as Saleh declared it as a national day of mourning. Witnesses said security agents in civilian clothes fired live bullets at protesters from rooftops on Friday, aiming at the head and chest. However, Saleh denied that police fired at protesters and blamed the attack on thugs. The president declared a 30-day state of emergency following the attack, which was condemned by the United Nations and the United States. The Organization of Islamic Conference on Sunday condemned "the excessive use of force and violence against peaceful processions in Yemen" and stressed on the importance of dialogue to find peaceful solutions to the current crisis. The demonstrations started in Yemen on February 11, following popular uprisings against long-time rulers in Tunisia and Egypt.

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                      • #71

                        March 20, 2011 -- Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, facing pressure from the street to step down, fired his government on Sunday, the Yemeni state news agency said. Preceding the decision, Yemen's ambassador to the United Nations Abdullah Alsaidi resigned his post as defections picked up steam after snipers firing from rooftops shot dead up to 52 anti-government protesters on Friday. In Sanaa, mourners started burying the dead in side-by-side graves in a small cemetery near a military camp in the Arabian Peninsula state, where tens of thousands of people have protested for weeks against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 32-year rule. But the police, who protesters blame for the deaths, withdrew from public sight near protest areas to be replaced by soldiers dressed in camouflage uniforms but bearing only batons, in an apparent bid to reduce tensions. "This is an acknowledgment of the failure of the security in repressing the revolution, and the crowds that came out today are a signal of the readiness to put forth more sacrifices," opposition spokesman Mohammed al-Sabry said.

                        Friday's bloodshed prompted Saleh, struggling to preserve his rule, to declare a state of emergency for 30 days that restricts freedom of movement and the right to gather. It also grants police more leeway to make inspections and arrests. A government source said neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, had been trying to quietly mediate even before Friday's shooting, and efforts were continuing. Tanks stood guard near the presidential palace in Sanaa and armoured vehicles were positioned outside sensitive locations. But tension in the capital appeared lower, and ambulances ferried the bodies, draped in Yemeni flags, to the cemetery. In the protest camp near Sanaa University, mourners placed roses at a site where five protesters died. "We have one aim, but revolutions require sacrifices, and we are willing to give more of our blood for our cause," said Wassim al-Qudsi, a young man who was among the mourners. Saleh, also trying to cement a northern truce and quell southern separatism, has rejected demands to resign immediately, promising instead to step down in 2013 and offering a new constitution giving more powers to parliament.

                        Doctors said the death toll from the shooting rose to 52, higher than the 25 deaths confirmed by the interior ministry. Protesters said they had caught at least seven snipers carrying government identity cards who they said had been involved in the shooting, but Saleh denied this, blaming gunmen among the protesters for the violence. A string of his allies have since broken ranks to join protesters frustrated by rampant corruption and soaring unemployment. Some 40 percent of the population live on €2 a day or less in Yemen, and a third face chronic hunger. In addition to the UN envoy, Yemen's Minister for Human Rights Houda al-Ban also resigned her post on Sunday, making her the second cabinet member to defect since Friday. "The critical situation prevents us from continuing in our jobs under a regime that does not respect human rights and freedoms," Ban said, speaking also on behalf of her deputy Ali Tayseer. Tourism Minister Nabil Hasan al-Faqih resigned and quit the ruling party on Friday. The head of the party's foreign affairs committee also left, as did a former ambassador to Russia. Since then, two other prominent members of Yemen's ruling party also quit including the head of the state news agency, Nasr Taha Mustafa. A former ambassador, Abdul Malek al-Iryani, also declined an invitation to join the country's Shura Council.

                        Washington, which sees Yemen as a key ally against a resurgent al-Qaida wing, said U.S. citizens should avoid areas of planned demonstrations, which could turn violent. It has already urged Americans to leave Yemen. As unrest continued across Yemen, tribesmen fired rocket-propelled grenades at a power plant in Maarib province on Sunday, cutting electricity to parts of the capital and the southern port city of Aden, a government source said.

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                        • #72

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                          • #73

                            La contestation dans le monde arabe se poursuit. Au Yémen, les événements se sont accélérés ce lundi 21 mars, avec la défection de plusieurs hauts militaires et de chefs de tribus. Ils ont décidé de rejoindre la contestation populaire qui secoue le Yémen depuis fin janvier et appelé le président Ali Abdallah Saleh à partir. Les défections de responsables du régime se sont également accélérées ces dernières heures. Un groupe de 60 officiers de l'armée originaires du sud-est du pays ont décidé de se joindre à la protestation. Ces annonces ont été faites après celle de l'un des principaux officiers de l'armée yéménite, le général Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, qui a décidé rejoindre le mouvement de protestation. Pour sa part, le plus important chef tribal au Yémen, cheikh Sadek al-Ahmar, a appelé lundi le président Ali Abdallah Saleh à une «sortie honorable». «J'annonce, au nom de tous les membres de ma tribu, notre ralliement à la révolution», a déclaré sur la chaîne Al Jazeera cheikh al-Ahmar, chef de la puissante confédération tribale des Hached, dont fait partie le chef de l'Etat.

                            En Libye, l'opération militaire, baptisée «Aube de l'Odyssée», lancée samedi par la coalition internationale dans le cadre d'une résolution de l'ONU se poursuit. La coalition, menée par les Etats-Unis, la France et la Grande-Bretagne, est passée à l'offensive en bombardant des objectifs militaires libyens. Les bombardements ont touché le cœur de Tripoli dans la nuit de dimanche à lundi. Lundi, ils tentaient de couper les lignes de ravitaillement pour limiter la capacité d'action des forces gouvernementales. Les Occidentaux affirment viser des objectifs militaires. Mais le régime libyen maintient que des civils sont visés par ces frappes et que 64 d'entre eux sont morts entre samedi après-midi et dimanche matin.

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                            • #74

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                              • #75

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