Report: Yemen killed 270 in Arab Spring protest

Feb 8, 2012, 8:28 PM

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) – Yemen’s president, who is in New York protected by diplomatic immunity while he receives medical treatment, ordered a crackdown on Arab Spring protesters last year that killed at least 270 people nationwide, Human Rights Watch said in a new report Wednesday.

At least 120 protesters and bystanders were killed in just one city that was the focus of anti-government demonstrations, the group said.

The report, based on interviews with more than 170 Yemeni experts and witnesses, provides more detail than the sketchy accounts of deaths that trickled out of Yemen last year.

People in Yemen have been protesting President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year dictatorship as part of the broader anti-authoritarian wave that swept the Mideast and North Africa last year, bringing down regimes from Tunisia to Egypt.

Yemen’s second largest city, Taiz, became a hotbed of protest. Saleh’s security forces beat and shot demonstrators, shelled neighborhoods, bulldozed a public square occupied by protesters and stormed into hospitals, evicting patients and attacking medical officials, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said.

“They had tanks and bulldozers. They were throwing petrol bombs into the tents and firing from many directions,” the new report quoted 32-year-old protester Arif Abd al-Salam as saying. “I saw with my own eyes a man with a loudspeaker calling on the security forces to stop attacking and killing their brothers. He was shot dead with a bullet.”

Human Rights Watch said its interviews confirmed 120 killings just in Taiz, with 57 protesters and bystanders killed in attacks on rallies and 63 civilians killed in shellings and other attacks on opposition tribal fighters. At least 22 of the dead were children, the group said.

It said it counted at least 270 deaths nationwide in Yemen last year but said the true total might be far higher.

Saleh has blamed the violence in Yemen on terrorists. After months of protests demanding his ouster and mounting international pressure, he signed a deal in November brokered by Gulf neighbors and backed by the U.S. to pass power to his vice president. That was the first step in a process meant to give the country a new constitution, president and elected parliament.

To persuade Saleh to sign, a clause protecting him and those associated with his government from prosecution was added.

“Saleh is entitled to medical treatment, but he and his aides have no right to immunity from prosecution for international crimes,” said Letta Tayler, Yemen researcher at Human Rights Watch.

An election is scheduled for Feb. 21 to select Saleh’s successor. As a head of state, Saleh has diplomatic immunity until then.

Saleh said Tuesday that he intends to be back in Yemen for the election, though he is not a candidate, Yemen’s state news agency SABA reported.

Reed Brody, a senior legal expert for Human Rights Watch, told the AP on Wednesday that “We would certainly argue that on Feb. 21, if he is still in the United States, the United States should certainly arrest him and bring him to trial” on war crimes and crimes against humanity charges.

“If I was his lawyer, I would tell him to get his tail back to Yemen by Feb, 21, because there’s a good chance people are not going to respect that deal outside Yemen,” Brody said.

While Saleh has been an anti-terrorism ally of Washington, allowing U.S. air strikes on al-Qaida militants, the United States has not officially welcomed him. President Barack Obama’s administration allowed him in only after internal debate about whether his exile would help advance democracy in Yemen.

Saleh is now staying in New York.

Human Rights Watch called on Washington, Europe and the Gulf states to encourage Yemen’s caretaker government to revoke Saleh’s immunity in his own country.

“The US, and EU and Gulf states should make loud and clear that the immunity is no good abroad and should be revoked at home,” Tayler said. “No one responsible for grave international crimes should get a free pass.”





(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

FILE - White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi attends a speech by President Joe Biden about supply c...

Associated Press

Biden rule aims to reduce methane emissions, targeting US oil and gas industry for global warming

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Saturday issued a final rule aimed at reducing methane emissions, targeting the U.S. oil and natural gas industry for its role in global warming as President Joe Biden seeks to advance his climate legacy. The Environmental Protection Agency said the new rule will sharply reduce methane and other […]

34 minutes ago

Associated Press

Trump and DeSantis will hold dueling campaign events in Iowa with the caucuses just six weeks away

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Ron DeSantis plans on Saturday to complete his campaign promise to visit each of Iowa’s 99 counties, a timeworn tactic for presidential candidates hoping to make their mark in the leadoff state over months mingling with voters at the state’s diners, cookouts and Pizza Ranches. But the Florida governor’s moment, […]

4 hours ago

FILE - Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is shown before administering the oath of office t...

Associated Press

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor paved a path for women on the Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (AP) — One fall day in 2010, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor slipped into the courtroom where she worked for nearly 25 years to take in an “amazing” sight. The first — and for 12 years, the only — woman on the high court saw three women in black robes among the […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

US Navy plans to raise jet plane off Hawaii coral reef using inflatable cylinders

HONOLULU (AP) — The U.S. Navy plans to use inflatable cylinders to lift and roll a jet plane off a coral reef in Hawaii before removal from the ocean waters where the aircraft crashed on Nov. 20. Rear Adm. Kevin Lenox, the commander of Carrier Strike Group 3 who is leading the salvage effort, said […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Las Vegas police search for suspect after 5 homeless people are shot, killing 2

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Five homeless people were shot in Las Vegas on Friday, two of them fatally, and police were searching for a lone suspect, authorities said. The shooting occurred around 5:30 p.m. near a freeway overpass in the northeastern part of the city, according to Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Mark Lourenco. […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Judge rejects calls to halt winter construction work on Willow oil project in Alaska during appeal

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A federal judge in Alaska on Friday rejected requests from environmental groups to halt winter construction work for the massive Willow oil project on Alaska’s North Slope while the groups’ legal fight over the drilling project wages on. U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason just last month upheld the Biden administration’s […]

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

The 2023 Diamondbacks are a good example to count on the underdog

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the World Series as a surprise. That they made the playoffs at all, got past the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card round, swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and won two road games in Philadelphia to close out a full seven-game NLCS went against every expectation. Now, […]

Follow @KTAR923...

West Hunsaker at Morris Hall supports Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona

KTAR's Community Spotlight this month focuses on Morris Hall and its commitment to supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona.



Importance of AC maintenance after Arizona’s excruciating heat wave

An air conditioning unit in Phoenix is vital to living a comfortable life inside, away from triple-digit heat.

Report: Yemen killed 270 in Arab Spring protest