28 September 2011

Dozens of protesters and a cameraman killed in Sanaa massacre


Cameraman Hassan al-Wadhaf is carried to a makeshift clinic after he was shot by a sniper while filming clashes in Sanaa
Cameraman Hassan al-Wadhaf is carried to a makeshift clinic after he was shot by a sniper while filming clashes in Sanaa
Khaled Abdullah Ali Al Mahdi/REUTERS
The camera of Hassan al-Wadhaf captured some of the bloody protest that killed dozens of protesters in Yemen in mid-September. It also captured the attack that lead to his death. After taking sniper fire to the head while filming the protests, al-Wadhaf died in hospital on 24 September, report Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The killer has not been identified.

In a demonstration that occupied several city blocks in Sanaa, militiamen, many in civilian dress, fired machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades at the crowd, report the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), Human Rights Watch and other IFEX members. According to Reuters, around 100 people have been killed in the Sanaa protest in the past 10 days. Human Rights Watch says protesters chanted the slogan "This is a peaceful march" and only had rocks in defence against the heavily armed Saleh loyalists.

Since January, repeated protests have called for President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for 33 years, to step down to make way for true, electoral democracy.

"[President Saleh's] response has been to kill, destroy and commit more crimes, affirming the necessity of toppling this repressive regime in order to avoid more bloodshed and even more tension in Yemen," says ANHRI, which blamed other Arab leaders for their failure to condemn the attacks on civilians.

Al-Wadhaf is the third journalist to be killed in Yemen's protests in the last year. Other attempted murders of journalists took place last Friday. The homes of journalists Rashida al-Qiyali and Mujib al-Hamidi, who work with the newspaper "Al-Sahwa", were fired on and Abdul Salam Mohamed, a reporter with Saba news agency, was fired on by a sniper, who narrowly missed him, as he left his home, report RSF.

ANHRI notes that several news websites, including popular, independent "Yemen Nation" was blocked by security forces during the protest, just as it was during last March's massacre of protesters. Additionally, newspapers are confiscated at the border.

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