UN rights chief alarmed by Yemen crackdown
The UN human rights chief on Tuesday expressed alarm at what was described as the disproportionate use of force by Yemen authorities against protesters, noting that up to 100 people have been killed in two months.
"We are very alarmed by reports of disproportionate and excessive use of force, including machine guns, against peaceful protesters by government security forces in Taez yesterday," said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
"This takes the total reported death toll since the protests began in Yemen to over 100, although this may be a conservative estimate," he added.
Yemeni security forces opened fire on demonstrators marching on the local governorate headquarters in central Taez on Monday, killing at least 17 people.
Witnesses said the demonstrators stormed the courtyard of the governorate and that plainclothes gunmen and rooftop snipers also took part in the gunfire to push them back.
Colville urged the government to halt all force against protesters, and asked authorities to set up an inquiry into allegations of killings and abuse by official forces.
He also stressed the importance of dialogue between both sides.
"We call on the government to heed calls for human rights reforms in the country and urge a meaningful dialogue between the government and opposition aimed at finding agreement on a peaceful way forward," added Colville.
© 2011 AFP