Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Wednesday called on Yemeni forces to observe peace and restraint (AI report) during scheduled protest marches this week. Yemeni security forces fired on protesters [BBC report] on Thursday despite AI's plea. The protest marches were organized by the Southern Movement to mark the one-year anniversary of the uncontested election of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and to push for a nonviolent succession from the nation. According to AI Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Ann Harrison:
The Southern Movement and its followers have a right to protest peacefully, and the Yemeni authorities must allow them this right ... That means that security forces deployed to police these demonstrations must refrain from using excessive, lethal force against peaceful protesters, something they have failed to do in the recent past.AI has not yet responded to the violence which took place during the protest.
Yemen has received criticism from the international community and human rights groups for its flawed investigations of deaths that occurred during the nations yearlong pro-democracy protests. In June 2011 the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] announced plans [JURIST report] to send a panel to investigate the human rights situation in Yemen [OHCHR backgrounder]. Amid fervent protests in April 2011, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to step down from power [JURIST report], ending his 32-year reign as the nation's leader, in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Earlier that month AI released a report urging the international community [JURIST report] to pressure Yemeni authorities to investigate the deaths of protesters. Earlier in 2011 L. Ali Khan, Professor of Law at Washburn University wrote that the people's revolutions of Tunisia, Yemen, and Egypt are in response to sham democracies [JURIST op-ed] and their peoples' desire to enforce their rights and liberties. Also that year Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, Vice President of Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies [advocacy website] noted that for all his problems, Saleh had kept Yemen stable [JURIST op-ed] by placating its influential tribal patriarchs and paying them patronage.