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Pillay condemns “reprehensible” violence against civilians in Taiz, Yemen

Pillay: Violence in Yemen

31 May 2011

GENEVA – UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Tuesday condemned the intensified use of force against anti-Government protestors in Yemen, which has reportedly led to dozens more killings and hundreds of injuries caused by the use of live ammunition over the past few days.

Pillay said the UN human rights office has received reports, which remain to be fully verified, that more than 50 people have been killed since Sunday in Taiz by Yemeni Army, Republican Guards and other Government-affiliated elements who forcibly destroyed the protest camp in Horriya Square using water cannons, bulldozers and live ammunition. Reports indicate that hundreds more have been injured.

“Such reprehensible acts of violence and indiscriminate attacks on unarmed civilians by armed security officers must stop immediately,” the High Commissioner said. “I urge all sides to cease the use of force and I remind the Government of its responsibility to ensure that the fundamental human rights of its citizens are protected.”

Pillay also noted reports that security forces had occupied Al-Safa hospital in Taiz, that the field clinic in Horriya Square had been burned, and that there was little or no access to emergency medical care.

“Adequate humanitarian access must be provided to all who need it – the Government is obliged to ensure this,” she said. “Medical staff and facilities must never be targeted by security forces.”

At least 100 individuals are believed to have been arrested over the weekend in Taiz, while dozens of others are unaccounted for. The High Commissioner called on the Government to investigate cases of disappearances and the many reports her staff have received of ill-treatment, torture and killings, and to bring perpetrators to justice.

“The Government must not resort to arbitrary and illegal arrests,” Pillay said. “Individuals detained for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and expression should be released without delay.”

Pillay noted that the humanitarian situation in Sana’a also remained difficult. Security forces reportedly continued to use force to disperse protestors in the city. She stressed the need for accountability, noting the lack of any progress reports on the high-level committee appointed by the Government to investigate the 18 march incident, when 52 protestors were reportedly killed in front of the University of Sana’a.

The UN human rights office has also received reports about the dire situation in the southern coastal town of Zinjibar, where a number of Yemeni soldiers were reportedly killed and dozens injured in fighting over the last two days between armed groups and security forces.

Pillay expressed particular concern about reports of indiscriminate attacks, including Government bombing and shelling, on the town.

“Reports of civilian casualties, including children, are particularly worrying, as is the mass displacement of the population of Zinjibar,” she said.

“Further violence will only yield more insecurity and move the country further away from a resolution to this political crisis,” Pillay stressed. “I urge all parties to continue efforts aimed at finding a peaceful solution to this conflict. The bloodshed must stop.”


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For more information or interviews, please contact spokesperson Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 or [email protected]) or press officers: Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9310 or [email protected]) or Xabier Celaya (+ 41 22 917 9383 or [email protected])

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