2011-02-01 Yemen’s Day of Rage and Abdul Ilah Shayi

The Interior Ministry of Yemen issued a statement on its website outlining extra security measures it has taken in preparation for Yemen’s Day of Rage on February 3. Security forces have been reinforced around Sanaa, the capital, and transportation routes into major cities have security checkpoints added for ‘wanted suspects’ or firearms. The opposition parties have called for a million protesters march in emulation of Egypt’s current demonstrations and asked for members and other supporters outside the capital to join. Around 15,000 protesters marched in Sanaa last Thursday.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced last week on state TV that he would step down after his second presidential term expires in 2013. He is to address an emergency meeting of the two chambers of the parliament, the House of Deputies and the Shura Council, tomorrow, one day before Yemen’s Day of Rage. He is to discuss “issues and developments of interest to the nation and citizens” according to the official Saba news agency.

WL Central discussed here President Saleh’s complicity with US attacks on Yemen that killed civilians, as detailed in the US state cables. Amnesty released a report on January 19 of a Yemeni journalist jailed after alleging US involvement in missile attack.

Abdul Ilah Shayi had accused the US of being involved in an attack on the community of al-Ma’jalah in the Abyan area, southern Yemen, which took place on 17 December 2009 and killed 55 people, including 14 women and 21 children. Shayi had written articles accusing the US government of involvement and had been interviewed by Al Jazeera. He was sentenced on January 18 to five years in prison by the Specialized Criminal Court in the capital Sana’a, for his purported links to al-Qa’ida. His acquaintance, Abdul Kareem al-Shami, was jailed for two years on similar charges.

He “appears to have been targeted for his work uncovering information on US complicity in attacks in the country,” Amnesty International has said. His lawyers and activists in Yemen say the charges were fabricated because of his journalism. “There are strong indications that the charges against ‘Abdul Ilah Shayi’ are trumped up and that he has been jailed solely for daring to speak out about US collaboration in a cluster munitions attack which took place in Yemen,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “If this is the case, Amnesty International would consider him a prisoner of conscience and call for his immediate and unconditional release.”

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