Sunday, March 27, 2011

Yemeni Security Forces Crack Down, Leave over 80 Killed

19 March 2011 :: staff

Yesterday, there were reports of snipers taking up positions around peaceful, unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators, then firing into the crowd, inflicting fatal headshots and hitting other victims in the neck. At least one journalist was killed and another injured in the crackdown, and dozens of journalists have reportedly been targeted —detained, beaten, shot at— since the Saleh regime’s crackdown began.

The violence yesterday has reportedly left at least 48 people dead, and Pres. Saleh has used the killings to declare a state of emergency. Critics say the snipers were plainclothes government agents sent to kill and to terrorize peaceful demonstrators. It now appears the Yemeni government has been involved in deliberate crimes against humanity, using lethal violence against unarmed civilians.

With the crisis in Libya, these other outposts of the “Jasmine Revolution”, the wave of democratic protest spreading across the Arabic-speaking world this winter, have been pushed to the margins of major global news reports on the region. The Center for American Progress publication Think Progress has studied the incidence of news reporting and found the Yemen protests getting significantly less coverage than Libya.

The al-Khalifa monarchy in Bahrain has also been escalating its deliberate use of violence to crush the protest movement there, putting the US in a difficult situation, as it goes to war to protect civilians in Libya, while two close allies are systematically engaging in brutal and deadly attacks on their own people, to maintain fundamentally undemocratic regimes.

Saleh has denied involvement in the mass killing of civilian demonstrators in Sana’a, and it now appears likely the state of emergency will be used to impose extreme penalties on anyone associated with the protest movement, which the government is characterizing as promoting unrest and violence.

With clear evidence now emerging of a systematic, centrally controlled campaign of extreme violence against civilians, apparently planned and carried out by the Saleh regime, the international community must now face the uncomfortable prospect of imposing harsh sanctions on one of the most unstable states in the world, where major powers have key strategic and security interests and there is currently a war ongoing against an al Qaeda linked insurgency.

UPDATE, 4:02 pm EDT: New reports from the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, suggest a new wave of attacks on civilians, leaving more than 80 people dead in the course of this weekend’s bloody crackdown.

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