Western nations criticize Yemen crackdown at UN

AP , Monday 19 Sep 2011

The UN Human Rights Council condemns Yemeni security forces' crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, advocating a power-transfer deal in the country

Yemen's Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi (Photo;Reuters)

Western countries on Monday condemned the violent crackdown by Yemen's security forces against anti-government protesters, and called on the country to abide by plans for a power-transfer deal.

The United States, European Union nations and others on the UN Human Rights Council used a meeting of the Geneva-based body to urge the government of Yemen to stop exercising force against peaceful protesters and to seek a resolution to the monthslong unrest.

Yemeni government forces opened fire Sunday with anti-aircraft guns and automatic weapons on protesters in the capital Sanaa, killing at least 26 people.

The country's foreign minister, Abubakr al-Qirbi, said the government was committed to political reforms and rejected claims of excessive force by police and pro-government militia, accusing some opposition groups of terrorist activity.

"We have presented evidence proving that many accusation made against security organizations are baseless," al-Qirbi told the meeting.

Still, he said the government of Yemen expressed "sorrow and condemnation for all acts of violence and bloodshed as those happened yesterday in Sanaa."

"The government will investigate and hold accountable all those in charge of these acts," he said.

Al-Qirbi rejected calls for an independent international investigation into the crackdown, saying they were "inconsistent with the recommendations calling for dialogue between Yemeni political parties to solve the crisis."

Washington's envoy to the Human Rights Council, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, said the US was concerned at "increasingly disturbing reports about violence" and urged the government to rein in the security forces.

"The United States believes that now is the time for an immediate, peaceful and orderly transition," Donahoe said, adding that those responsible for abuses against civilians needed to be brought to justice as part of the reform process in the Arab nation.

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