SANA’A, Mar. 13 – Two pro-democracy protesters were killed in the capital last Saturday while security forces attempted to disperse demonstrations around Sana’a University campus. The field hospital that has been established at the university mosque reported a further 30 serious injuries by gunfire, 100 injuries by rocks and clubs, and over 1,000 victims of gas inhalation. According to doctors and protesters, security forces also employed “boiling water” to dispel the crowds. On March 13th, 10 were seriously injured following attacks by National Security forces at Sana’a University. The protest security committee arrested four in connection to the attack. Four eyes witnesses confirmed that snipers shot from rooftops while protesters were praying. Following these attacks, large numbers of security forces have surrounded the entrances to the protest encampment.
Three buses from Al-Thoura public hospital were dispatched to offer assistance on campus. “The hospital tried to prevent the doctors from going, but they wanted to do their duty,” said Dr. Waseem Al-Qurashi.
Dr. Nashwan al-Awlaqi was also arrested by National Security forces on Saturday, March 12th for taking pictures of the wounded from his home
The international community has condemned the use of violence against Yemeni protesters. In particular, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, has expressed concern regarding the continued deterioration of the Yemeni situation.
The EU High Representative, Catherine Ashton, has called upon President Saleh, “To stand by his commitments announced on March 10th, to immediately take the necessary measures to ensure the protection of demonstrators and to uphold their right to assemble freely. The Yemeni government is accountable for the welfare and safety of its people.”
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the “unacceptable” violence directed against demonstrators at Sana’a University and called upon all British citizens to leave the country immediately.
The International Union of Muslims also published a statement condemning the killing of Yemeni protesters and affirming their support for the Yemeni people, so long as they continue to articulate their demands peacefully.
Abdulrahman Barman, human rights activist from the National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms (HOOD) and legal representative of the protesters, has confirmed that HOOD has received many complaints regarding security forces abducting injured patients from hospitals.
“Two wounded individuals at the Saudi German hospital were arrested by national security who arrived in civilian clothing,” said Barman. “The hospital is morally and professionally responsible for their arrest, as they shouldn’t allow any patient to be removed from the premises illegally.” Barman also confirmed that several injured people from Tuesday’s government attack were taken by force from Al-Thoura hospital.
HOOD told the Yemen Times that the organization also receives complaints suggesting that security forces have been using ambulances to “kidnap” protesters. “We reported that one recently injured person who was abducted by security forces driving an ambulance was actually beaten further, in spite of the fact that he was already suffering from injuries,” explained Salim Allaw, a lawyer from HOOD who chose to represent the aforementioned individual. “They took him to the military hospital and interrogated him, and he was only let go after a mediator got involved.”
The Yemen Times was also told that one Yemeni migrant in the UK has recently donated technical devices and medicine to be used at the university mosque field hospital.
The Science and Technology hospital was one of the recipients of Sana’a University’s worst injuries, including individuals who had been severely gassed. Doctors at the hospital are still unable to confirm what kind of gas was used, as they are still working hard to manage the actual symptoms of exposure. However, because the gas’ composition has not yet been identified, treatment has proven difficult.
In a press conference on Thursday, the Minister of Health and Population denied that nerve gas had been used to disperse pro-democracy protesters. Minister Abdulkareem Rasea’ said a committee had been created to investigate the composition and provenance of the gas. The group has already managed to screen several injured people and the tests have confirmed that the gas was a combination of CN and CS, neither of which are “internationally forbidden” variations of tear gas, according to Rasea’.
Dr. Shaher Al-Absi, a physician working at the mosque field hospital, said that Rasae’s comments were unacceptable. “He is not supposed to say the things that he has said while sitting as a minister. He should have tested the gas immediately after it was used. It’s impossible to determine whether a gas is of an ‘internationally forbidden’ variety when performing clinical tests a full day later,” explained Al-Absi.
One of the pro-democracy medical committee doctors told the Yemen Times that physicians are being targeted by security as well. “When they first began their attack, we attempted to move a medical tent nearer to the clashes, so as to ensure rapid treatment. A security vehicle crashed into the tent and destroyed all of the devices and drugs within it. Fortunately, we managed to escape.”
One of the protesters who was injured at Sana’a University had been shot in the head by a sniper in the early hours of Saturday morning. Eyewitnesses told the Yemen Times that six armored vehicles left the Central Security building at midnight, in the direction of Change Square. Security surrounded the area but no violence was used until Saturday morning.
“They attacked us while we were praying. The youth were careful and we were all expecting them to attack, but we didn’t know exactly when,” said one female protester who witnessed the attack.
The pro-democracy protesters were forced to break the pavement into small rocks so as to fend off security guards. The security then employed the same gas that had been used on Tuesday’s attack, which is still widely suspected to have been a nerve agent.
Many of those suffering from suffocation after being
gassed were taken to the a field hospital set up in a
mosque next to Sana’a University.Photo by: Amira Al-Arasi