UN rights chief says Yemen at 'dangerous crossroad'

22nd September 2011, Comments 0 comments

The UN's human rights chief warned Thursday that Yemen was at a "dangerous crossroad," amid the regime's use of excessive force against protestors which has led to 100 deaths since Sunday.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay noted that a mission dispatched by her office last week already criticised the regime for deploying excessive force including live ammunition, snipers and heavy weaponry to quell protests, which led to a "heavy loss of life."

Nevertheless, "in the past few days we have seen a repetition of similar tactics and a resultant heavy loss of life," said Pillay in a statement.

"It is disappointing that lessons have not been learnt and violations repeated," she added.

In fact, citing credible sources on the ground, her office said "as many as 100 people have been killed since Sunday."

Pillay urged the Yemeni regime to halt the use of force and to allow an independent probe into allegations of violations, so that those responsible can be brought to justice.

She also called on the authorities to hold a dialogue with the opposition in order to prevent further bloodshed.

"Yemen is at a very sensitive and dangerous crossroads and the Government and opposition will need to tread carefully, with the support of the international community, to bring it through this phase and into a lasting peace, with respect for the human rights of its people," said the high commissioner.

Demonstrations against Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh have been raging since January.

Saleh, who is recovering in Saudi Arabia from wounds received in an explosion in Sanaa in June, last week authorised Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi to negotiate a power transfer with the opposition.

But the opposition has dismissed calls for dialogue before Saleh, in power since 1978, signs a Gulf-brokered deal that would see him hand power over to Hadi in return for amnesty from prosecution for himself and his family.

© 2011 AFP

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