18 Mar 2011

Yemen: state of emergency called as 41 protesters shot dead

At least 40 protesters have been killed in Yemen during a demonstration in Sana’a, with the country now in a state of emergency. Yemen Post’s editor-in-chief describes the chaos to Channel 4 News.

State of emergency called in Yemen as 41 potesters shot dead

At the time of writing, 41 anti regime protesters were killed in Sana’a when pro-government followers and security forces attacked Sanaa’s Change Square immediately after Friday prayers. That number is likely to grow, with Yemen on the brink of anarchy, writes Hakim Almasmari of Yemen‘s independent English language newspaper.

More than 41 anti regime protesters were killed in Sana’a when pro government followers and security forces attacked Change Square at Sanaa University immediately after Friday prayers. Eyewitnesses said that security forces on roof tops of buildings near Sana’a University were wearing masks and shot for more than twenty minutes directly at protesters.

More than 320 protesters were injured in the attack, most of the wounds being to the head and chest, making doctors at the scene confirm that the goal of security forces was to kill and not injure. According to Alawi Hababi, a field doctor at Sana’a University, at least 23 of the injured are in critical condition. “Where are the human rights organizations to cover the incident? This is a massacre not witnessed before in Sana’a over the last three decades.”

Senior ruling party official Mohammed Abu Lohoom condemned that attack on peaceful protesters and called President Saleh to come with an initiative that will assure that he leaves power and hands authority to the opposition. “Saleh must announce an initiative that results in him leaving power and giving the people the right to choose who to lead them,” Abu Lohoom said.

The latest protest was the biggest in Sana’a since the youth revolution called for them more than 40 days ago. More than one million gathered in Sana’a and two million throughout the country. Ali Almujahid, a political analyst at the protest said, “Protesters in Yemen are peaceful and not using force. We do not have weapons like the Libyan revolutionist.” Almujahid added, “A government that kills its people should not be allowed to rule.

Thousands camp out

Demonstrators want to see the ousting of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who presides over a country in which about 40 per cent of the population live on £1 a day or less.

Thousands of people have camped out in the square since 21 February demanding the departure of Saleh.

Tens of thousands of protesters are also gathered in cities across Yemen, from the southern port city of Aden to Hodeida in the west.

On February 2, Saleh promised to step down in 2013 and offered a new constitution giving more powers to parliament, but he has refused his critics’ main demand to quit immediately.