Violence continues against Yemeni protesters By: Shatha Al-Harazi
YT photo by Abubakr Al-Shamahi
SANA’A, Apr. 20th — All across Yemen this week, more violence broke out against pro-democracy protesters. Last Wednesday, five protesters were killed in Sana’a and two in Ta’iz when clashes erupted between demonstrators, security forces and pro-government thugs wielding AK-47s.
The Science and Technology Hospital on 60 Meter Road near Sana’a University’s Change Square received at least 140 injuries that day. Four of those injured are in critical condition and remain in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
Four volunteer female medical students were also arrested by Central Security Forces during the protesters’ march up 60 Meter Road.
“We were holding an emergency operation, trying to save the two [protesters] who died last night, but they passed away during the operation,” said Dr. Mohammed Al-Obahi, head of the pro-democracy demonstration’s field hospital.
“We are experiencing an acute shortage of general supplies, drugs and oxygen. We often have to transfer some cases to the nearby Kuwait hospital for triage,” he continued.
The Science and Technology Hospital received most of Wednesday’s injuries due to its proximity to the fighting. The protesters began marching from Change Square at 4:00PM, passing Al-Zubeiry Street to 60 Meter Road, near the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
According to protesters, security forces tried to stop the march in Al-Zubeiry Street, which is where the clashes began. The Yemen Times has also learned that the protesters managed to arrest Colonel Genera, the leader of the security forces who gave the final order to attack. Seven pro-government thugs were also arrested by the protesters’ security committee.
“We seized their weapons and the rocks that they intended to throw at us, and we will turn them over to the prosecutor’s office,” said Salem Alaw, a member of the National Organization for the Defense of Rights and Freedoms.
According to the revolutionary media committee, one soldier was injured in the clashes and four volunteer female medical students rushed to treat his injuries. However, when they found the injured man, more soldiers rushed towards the women and arrested them.
Regarding the four arrested women, Walid Al-Amari, the protester responsible for managing Change Square’s main stage, said, “We gave an address on the Square’s stage that was broadcast to all of the other squares in the country, demanding their [the women’s] release. Otherwise, we will escalate.”
At the same time, Ahmed Al-Sofi, President Saleh’s information secretary, told the Yemen Times that not a single bullet was shot by the armed forces and that the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) should be held responsible for the killed protesters.
“All the gunfire came from the roof of the Saba phone company and from Asr mosque,” said Al-Sofi. “There are eyewitnesses who have confirmed that the armed forces didn’t use any bullets.”
Al-Sofi also said that national security was in the street simply to prevent any clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters, as a pro-government march was taking place at the same time.
He alleged that the JMP are responsible for killing the protesters. “They want to depict themselves as martyrs of the revolution,” insisted Al-Sofi. “The armed forces did not shed a single drop of blood.”
Meanwhile, according to a statement made by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), reporter Ahmed Al-Mohamadi was kidnapped by the Republican Guard last Saturday. Al-Mohamedi works for the Suhil opposition news channel, which has been actively covering events at Change Square.
According to the CPJ, Al-Mohamedi received a phone call on Saturday evening from the Office of the Republican Guard, summoning him to appear for questioning. Since then, he has disappeared.
According to Al-Mohamedi’s brother, the journalist had already been contacted on Thursday by two officers of the Republican Guard who asked him to resign from his post at the news station and work as a government informant. Al-Mohamedi declined.
The CPJ called upon Yemeni authorities to reveal Al-Mohamedi’s whereabouts.
Journalists have faced increasing levels of persecution over the course of the Yemeni crisis. On Saturday, security forces beat four freelance journalists who write for the independent weekly Al-Nidaa and the state-owned Al-Thawra.
According to the CPJ, Hamood Al-Hasimi, a journalist working for the independent daily Al-Oula, was beaten by a group of unidentified men while covering Friday’s pro-democracy protests in Taiz. Shortly before the attack, he received an anonymous phone call ordering him to stop his coverage and to leave the scene immediately.
Also on Friday, security forces seized a shipment of independent daily newspapers that included Akhbar, Al-Yawm, Al-Oula and Al-Shari. According to the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, the seizure took place at a checkpoint in the southern governorate of Hodeida. The driver transporting the newspapers was beaten.
“We call upon the Yemeni authorities to bring an immediate end to all forms of violence against the media, as well as to lift censorship,” said the CPJ.