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

This image released by Bleecker Street shows Freida Pinto, left, and Zawe Ashton in a scene from "M...
Associated Press

‘Minions’ set box office on fire with $108.5 million debut

Families went bananas for Minions this weekend at the movie theater. ” Minions: The Rise of Gru ” brought in an estimated $108.5 million in ticket sales from 4,391 screens in North America, Universal Pictures said Sunday. By the end of the Monday’s July Fourth holiday, it will likely have earned over $127.9 million. The […]
20 hours ago
FILE - More than 100 opponents of the Republican redistricting plans vow to fight the maps at a ral...
Associated Press

Abortion ruling puts spotlight on gerrymandered legislatures

In overturning a half-century of nationwide legal protection for abortion, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Roe v. Wade had been wrongly decided and that it was time to “return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives” in the states. Whether those elected officials are truly representative of the people is a matter […]
20 hours ago
People salute the casket of Hershel "Woody" Williams set up in the first floor rotunda of the West ...
Associated Press

WWII Medal of Honor recipient to lie in honor at US Capitol

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hershel W. “Woody” Williams, the last remaining Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, will lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday. A date and other details will be announced later, Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement. […]
20 hours ago
FILE - California Gov. Gavin Newsom discusses the recent mass shooting in Texas during a news confe...
Associated Press

‘Join us in California’: Newsom targets GOP in Florida ad

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Gavin Newsom is running for reelection in California, but his latest television ad is airing in Florida. The 30-second spot scheduled to air on Fox News starting Monday takes shots at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his policies, while drawing a contrast with California. “Freedom, it’s under attack in your […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

Video shows Akron police kill Black man in hail of gunfire

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — A Black man was unarmed when Akron police chased him on foot and killed him in a hail of gunfire, but officers believed he had shot at them earlier from a vehicle and feared he was preparing to fire again, authorities said Sunday at a news conference. Akron police released video […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

Shark attacks Long Island lifeguard during training exercise

FIRE ISLAND, N.Y. (AP) — Suffolk County officials closed a Long Island beach to swimming Sunday after what they described as an unprecedented shark attack that injured a lifeguard. The lifeguard had been playing the role of a victim during a training exercise when the shark bit him in the chest and hand, Suffolk County […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Report: Yemen killed 270 in Arab Spring protest