We have send a letter to the US Department of State asking that the United States condemn the violent repression of peaceful demonstrations in Yemen. The text of the letter is below. You can help us by pasting this text, along with your signature, into the State Department's online contact form, at http://contact-us.state.gov/cgi-bin/state.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php?p_sid=1Fm9ysmk&p_accessibility=0&p_redirect=&p_srch=0
On the night of Friday February 11 a peaceful gathering of demonstrators in Yemen’s capital, Sanʻa, was attacked by hundreds of armed men apparently supported and organized by uniformed security forces. These attacks were documented by eyewitnesses, including representatives of the international NGO Human Rights Watch (http://bit.ly/i9RW46). While Yemen’s President, ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Salih, has overseen harsh crackdowns of popular protests in Yemen’s south and far north in recent years, such violence in the country’s capital is nearly unheard of. The right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed by the constitution of the Republic of Yemen, and unlike Egypt or Algeria, Yemen is not currently under any form of emergency law, so these violent actions by the state have absolutely no legal justification.
Last week President Salih offered token concession to Yemen’s main opposition parties in an attempt to preempt planned demonstrations. When demonstrations were subsequently held in Sanʻa, security forces did not interfere. It seemed that the regime was willing to tolerate public protests, given the relatively stable state of affairs in the capital. But yesterday’s events shattered this assumption. In addition to the vicious attack on peaceful demonstrators in the capital, Yemeni security forces are reported to have fired live ammunition at protesters in Aden and other cities in the south of the country, where human rights abuses and extralegal killings of demonstrators have become almost commonplace.
President Barack Obama was quick to praise ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Salih on his promises of political reforms last week. We ask that the President and the United States Department of State act just as quickly to condemn the Yemeni state’s illegal and violent repression of demonstrations. Given the current climate in the Middle East, it is now more important than ever that the United States make clear its commitment to human rights, democracy, and the right of popular protest. These principles must form the basis of America’s relationship with other nations, particularly Yemen, where popular grievances against Salih’s government contribute to the growth of al-Qaʻidah and other anti-state actors.
We hope to see a statement of condemnation from the Department of State as soon as possible. Thank you for your time and your attention to this matter.