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Security forces storm Al Horriya Square, killing at least 20 demonstrators

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 30 May 2011 - ANHRI has condemned a brutal attack by Yemeni security forces on peaceful demonstrators who had been camping in Al Horriya Square in the city of Taiz on the evening of 29 May.

Forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh stormed the square Sunday evening to disperse ongoing peaceful demonstrations calling on the president to step down. Forces used tanks and armored vehicles in the attack, torching the tents of the protesters and detaining hundreds of them, including 37 wounded who were being treated in a field hospital set up by the protesters in the square. At least 20 people were shot dead by security forces and more than one hundred were injured; hundreds more were detained.

The human rights situation in Yemen has been continuously deteriorating since demonstrations calling for political reforms broke out in January. Yemeni authorities have seized a number of newspapers, arrested journalists and activists and blocked several news sites. Forces have also fired expired teargas and rubber bullets on protesters, causing many deaths and injuries among them.

"Yemeni authorities have used brutal and excessive force to stay in power against the will of the majority of Yemenis. They mistakenly believe that they are on the right track in defending their legitimacy, while on the contrary, the more they escalate their crimes against civilians, the more they lose legitimacy. Accordingly, Yemeni authorities have now lost their legitimacy to stay in power by giving orders to shoot on their own people," said ANHRI.

"Yemeni authorities must stop using brutal and repressive measures against their own people, respect freedom of opinion and expression as fundamental human rights, release immediately and unconditionally all prisoners of conscience (. . .) place national interest and security above personal interests, and respect people's general rights and freedom."

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