UN rights chief warns Yemen against violent repression


GENEVA – The UN human rights chief on Tuesday warned Yemeni authorities against the violent repression of peaceful protests, saying that people have the right to express their grievances.
“People have the legitimate right to express their grievances and demands to their government,” Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement. “We have seen over and over again in the past few weeks that violent responses, in breach of international law, do not make the protestors go away and only serve to exacerbate their frustration and anger,” she added.
She also called on “the government to protect the rights of demonstrators and journalists under international law.” Pillay’s statement came as vast numbers of protestors poured into a square in Yemen’s capital Sanaa for a massive anti-regime rally. The UN official warned that public security officers “must understand that their actions are governed by international law and they can be held personally accountable for breaches.”
Besides calling on the authorities to exercise restraint, Pillay also urged protestors to not resort to violence. Rather, she said that dialogue was necessary to chart a way forward. “Across the Middle East and North Africa, people have been taking their governments to task,” said Pillay.
“The only way forward is to listen to them and grant them their due rights to participate in the decisions that deeply affect their lives,” she said.