x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Yemenis honour their protesters

Tens of thousands observe the the first anniversary of the country's biggest massacre — when pro-regime snipers killed more than 50 protesters in Sanaa.

A Yemeni soldier passes posters of anti-government protesters who died last year during a rally against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
A Yemeni soldier passes posters of anti-government protesters who died last year during a rally against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

SANAA // Tens of thousands of Yemenis yesterday observed the first anniversary of the country's biggest massacre — when pro-regime snipers killed more than 50 protesters in Sanaa.

Mohammed Salem Basindwah, Yemen's prime minister, described it as "an historical day," in which "the peaceful protesters were face with brutal and excessive use of force."

The killings led to the defections of dozens of government, party and military leaders during the country's year-long demonstrations to oust former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Mr Basindwah also announced a donation by the state of 50 million rials (Dh851m) to support the Wafa Foundation, a non-governmental organisation that is caring for families of the protesters killed and wounded. A similar amount was donated earlier by a private group of companies while President Abrabu Mansur Hadi, who took office last month as part of a power-transfer deal that ended the 33-year rule of Mr Saleh, contributed one million rials.

Yesterday was dubbed a "day of loyalty to the martyr" and cities hosted carnivals and rallies for the protesters, who continued their call to drop Mr Saleh's immunity from prosecution granted in the power-transfer deal and the prosecution of those who killed or injured demonstrators during the uprising.

On Saturday, Mr Hadi issued a decree that, for the first time, declared all victims of the protest movement as "martyrs of the nation".

Under the decree, the state will pay for the medical coverage of injured protesters, whether they are treated in Yemen or abroad, and give disabled protesters and the families of victims a monthly salary equivalent to that of a soldier, which is about US$150 (Dh550) per month.

Meanwhile, yesterday, an American who worked at the International Training and Development Centre in Taiz was shot dead. Brigadier Ali Al Saidi, security director of Taiz, told The National that two armed men on a motorcycle opened fire on the man, who was in his car.

Police have not officially released the name of the man and the shooting is under investigation.

Waldemar Braun, director of the centre, told The National that his colleague was a project leader responsible for teaching and administration projects. He said the centre works on projects related to technical education, development and youth in Taiz.

A group linked to Al Qaeda later claimed responsibility for the shooting, saying it had killed him for preaching Christianity, Reuters reported.

Mr Braun denied that the ITDC or his colleague were involved in any religious or political activities.

The killing comes three days after a Swiss language teacher was kidnapped in Yemen's port town of Hodeida. It is not clear who abducted the woman and, so far, there has been no evidence of a motive.

malqadhi@thenational.ae

* With an additional report from Agence-France Presse

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