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Pillay says Yemen situation “dangerous,” urges all parties to halt abuses

GENEVA (22 September 2011) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Thursday urged the Government and opposition groups in Yemen to embark upon a genuine and comprehensive dialogue to prevent further violence in the country, in the aftermath of days of escalating violence and bloodshed.

“Yemen is at a very sensitive and dangerous crossroads and the Government and opposition will need to tread carefully, with the support of the international community, to bring it through this phase and into a lasting peace, with respect for the human rights of its people,” Pillay said.

Noting that a ceasefire has yet to take hold, Pillay condemned the use of live ammunition and snipers by security forces and their affiliates against protestors in Change Square and surrounding areas in Sanaa and in Freedom Square in Ta'izz. She also condemned the resort to violence by anti-Government armed groups. Clashes have reportedly led to dozens of deaths of mostly unarmed demonstrators, in the last few days.

“My June assessment mission to Yemen concluded that the state had used excessive force to quell demonstrations - including the use of water cannons attached to the sewage water system, live ammunition, snipers and ultimately heavy weaponry. The result was heavy loss of life. In the past few days we have seen a repetition of similar tactics and a resultant heavy loss of life. It is disappointing that lessons have not been learned and violations repeated."

Pillay strongly urged the Government to move quickly to implement all the recommendations contained in the report of her assessment mission to Yemen, which was published last week. She cited in particular the recommendation to allow an international independent investigation into the violations that have taken place, to bring those responsible to justice and to compensate the victims. She also highlighted the call for establishment of an OHCHR country office in Yemen and urged the authorities to continue in the spirit of cooperation with her office by permitting this to happen soon. 

“We stand ready to help Yemen move forward and hope the Government of Yemen will accept our outstretched hand,” Pillay said. “The international community has a responsibility to use all means available to end this prolonged conflict.”

ENDS

The full report of the OHCHR Assessment Mission to Yemen is available on: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/YE/YemenAssessmentMissionReport.pdf

Yemen Report: the investigation – Watch the video: http://youtu.be/lQ64ur7UxPE

OHCHR Country Page – Yemen: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/YEIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests please contact Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9310 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Xabier Celaya: (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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