Geneva – Yemeni security forces and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) forces have killed two and injured a number of demonstrators during popular demonstrations in cities in southern Yemen, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said in a statement expressing deep concern.
The Yemeni government security forces fired live bullets at peaceful demonstrators protesting against the deteriorating living conditions in the city of Mukalla in the Hadramout Governorate, killing young man Salem Bugshan, 21, with a direct bullet in the head. Several others were wounded.
In turn, STC forces killed a young man, Ziad Zaher, in the city of Crater in the Aden Governorate on Thursday, and wounded a number of other demonstrators.
Early last week, Yemen’s southern governorates witnessed widespread popular demonstrations against the high prices and the deterioration of the value of the local currency, which has led to a sharp deterioration in the living conditions of the population.
The Yemeni security and STC forces used excessive force to suppress the demonstrations without the slightest attention to the protesters’ right to peaceful assembly and expression as guaranteed in the Yemeni constitution.
With the escalation of the demonstrations, the Governor of Hadhramaut, Major General Faraj Al-Bohsani, said that the Houthi group plans to create chaos in the governorate and announced a partial curfew from 8 pm to 6 am until further notice.
The President of STC, Adirous Al-Zubaidi, declared a state of emergency in the southern governorates of Yemen, directing his forces not to tolerate with the "traitors" in the Aden protests.
For her part, Nour Olwan, Euro-Med Monitor’s Chief Media Officer said, "We have witnessed major disputes between the Yemeni government and STC including direct fighting, but they are now uniting in suppressing peaceful demonstrations and confiscating the right of Yemenis to peaceful assembly, as they follow a similar smear approach against the demonstrators to thwart their peaceful protests."
"STC's declaration of a state of emergency in the governorates it controls will pave the way for a worse phase in suppressing demonstrations and restricting freedoms, especially after the violent behavior with which it confronted the demonstrators," she said.
Olwan warned of the expansion of the crackdown on popular demonstrations under the pretext of implementing the state of emergency.
The Yemeni government and STC should:
- abide by the basic principles related to respecting the right to express opinions and avoid using military force against civilians who are exhausted by the ongoing seven-year-long conflict;
- immediately stop suppressing peaceful protests, respect and protect the right of Yemenis to peaceful assembly and expression, and resort to dialogue with protesters instead of suppressing them and smearing their movement; and
- open an investigation into the incidents of killing protesters, identify those responsible, including those who issued the orders to use live bullets against unarmed protesters, and bring them to a fair trial.
The parties involved in the Yemeni crisis, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, should:
- pressure the Yemeni government and STC to stop their violations of the rights of Yemenis,
- contribute effectively to improving the living and economic conditions in Yemen and end their military intervention in the country that is witnessing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.