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Yemen – Brief arrest of Ms Tawakkol Karman, physical assault on Ms Bushra Alsorabi, and arrest and torture of Mr Fuad Ahmed Naji
On 12 October 2010 human rights defenders Ms Tawakkol Karman and Ms Bushra Alsorabi were targeted and harassed by police during a peaceful protest in Sana'a. Tawakkol Karman is chairperson and Bushra Alsorabi is executive director, of Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC), which campaigns for freedom of the press and other human rights in Yemen. Many others who participated in the peaceful protest were also attacked by police.
Human rights defender Ms Tawakkol Karman was arrested and detained for three hours at Alolofi police station. She was allegedly subjected to ill-treatment while in police custody. Human rights defender Ms Bushra Alsorabi was reportedly beaten by four security men who tried to take her camera. She was hit with an unidentified object thought to be a rubber bullet or smoke projectile resulting in burns to her body and clothes. She was hospitalised in the Republican Hospital in Sana’a as a result of her injuries.
Numerous other human rights defenders, activists, and Al-Ja'ashen displaced people who participated in the protest were reported to have been attacked by the police. Approximately 35 families were displaced from their villages in Al-Ja'ashen County in Ibb because they refused to pay unofficial taxes (200,000 YR) to the head of the tribe who is a member of the appointed Shura council. 10 months ago their villages were attacked and houses were burnt down, they were forced to flee, and currently live in camps in different parts of Yemen, including Sana'a. Those who still live in Ibb, Ta'ez, and Ma'reb are still targeted by security officials.
Police used their guns to beat participants, they also reportedly pointed their guns at various participants and threatened to kill them. Five other women participating in the protest were also injured, two of whom had to be hospitalised as a result of their injuries. Up to 35 persons from the Al-Ja'ashen group of displaced people were arrested during the protest and were taken to five different police stations.
Mr Fuad Ahmed Naji, who was displaced along with others from Al-Ja'ashen, was forcefully arrested and detained for three days by Yemeni police at Alnasr Police Station. During his detention he was reportedly subjected to ill-treatment and torture by five security personnel. He was allegedly beaten, hit with police rifles and tortured with cigarette butts, electrical shocks and cold water. As a result of his ill-treatment and torture, he was admitted to Alahli hospital in Sana’a on 15 October.
WJWC has been actively campaigning for freedom of the press in Yemen, where there has been a sharp escalation in violations of freedom of expression.
Front Line believes that the attacks, ill-treatment and torture of those participating in the peaceful protest is directly related to their work in supporting human rights in Yemen. Front Line is deeply concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of human rights defenders in Yemen who are subject to attacks, ill-treatment, and torture as a result of their legitimate work in the defence of human rights.