Freedom House Condemns Violence in Bahrain and Yemen
Freedom House strongly condemns the use of force against protesters by authorities in Bahrain and Yemen and urges both governments to use restraint and to respect the rights of citizens.
“The recent crackdowns in Bahrain and Yemen are alarming and further reinforce the need for the international community, including the United Nations and the United States, to stand against such violence and to support peaceful reform efforts,” said David J. Kramer, executive director of Freedom House. “Without unwavering global condemnation, there is nothing to discourage these governments from resorting to violence to maintain a grip on power.”
In Bahrain, violent clashes erupted on Sunday as security forces used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters who were blocking major roadways. The government has reiterated calls for national dialogue, despite reports that opposition activists are being threatened and targeted with possible government involvement. Pro-government supporters are calling for a 3-month period of martial law to quell the current unrest. Troops from Saudi Arabia are reported to have entered Bahrain—a move the opposition is calling an “occupation and declaration of war.”
Seven protesters, including a 12-year-old boy, were reportedly killed this weekend in Yemen amidst violence between protesters and riot police. Security forces used heavy-handed methods including live bullets, teargas and water cannons against protesters. Late night raids have also been reported. A total of 30 people have been killed since protests began last month. It was reported today that the government of Yemen has begun to deport foreign journalists, which could be seen as an effort to cover up its actions against citizens.
Bahrain and Yemen are ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2010.
For more information on Freedom House analysis of the situation in the Middle East, click here.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.