SANA’A, Oct 26 — Yemen’s security forces used an unknown substance, mixed with water, to disperse protesters in Sana’a on Tuesday morning. The protesters were attempting to cross the red lines off Change Square and in front of Sana’a University, according to eyewitnesses.
“When the march reached the fish market (southeast of Change Square), government security forces used water cannons to spray protesters with a strange water, which led to some protesters being admitted to the field hospital with serious burns on their faces and backs,” said Waleed Al-Amari, a protester who attended the march.
Around 15 people were taken to the field hospital with serious burns, and some are still under treatment, according to Al-Amari. The field hospital – a non-governmental entity – stated on its Facebook page that “three cases involved infection by white phosphorus, while over 200 cases were infected with other different, unknown substances”.
Al-Amari, who has been camping in the square demanding the removal of President Saleh for around nine months, explained that a similar mix of liquids was used against protesters on the 18th and the 19th of September, when security forces fired water cannons filled with sewage, which caused serious wounds among protesters.
However, Abd Al-Rasheed Al-Faqih, a human rights activist who often verifies such claims by protesters and medical workers in the field hospital, told the Yemen Times that “physicians who have political affiliations and work in the field hospital sometimes issue rapid judgments over the sort of substance used, and without checking.
“It is difficult to say accurately what sort substance was used. It might be white phosphorus or water mixed with other materials, or possibly sewage water,” said Al-Faqih. He added that a female doctor at the field hospital told him that some protesters had sustained first- and second-degree burns due to the use of mixed water against protesters.
Yemen’s uprising erupted last February, with demands for an end to Saleh’s 33-year-long regime. Hundreds of peaceful protesters have been shot dead and thousands injured throughout the nine-month-long nationwide protests, according to Amnesty International.
Around 152 protesters were killed between September 18 and October 25, according to the field hospital. Four of them were children.