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Southern oppositionist calls for UN peacekeepers in Yemen

With a donors’ conference on Yemen scheduled for next week, southern Yemenis are demanding the international community take their grievances into account.

One person was wounded and 25 arrested in Radfan when police opened fire on protesters. The demonstration was called in support of the imprisoned editors of al Ayyam Newspaper and the release of hundreds arrested at earlier protests and funeral marches. The protesters urged the British-hosted conference to support their calls for secession and a two state solution to Yemen’s instability.

Brigadier General Nasser al Nuba, President of the Supreme National Commission for the Independence of the South issued a statement highlighting “the suffering of the people of the south today by the brutal occupation by the Sana’a regime of murder and persecution, arrests, displacement and looting of wealth and the blurring of the identity.”

“Terrorism (al Qaeda) is part of the state system in Yemen and a creature created in order to blackmail the international community and countries in the region,” Mr. al Nuba wrote in a plea addressed to the British Prime Minister, as well as the heads of the United Nations and Arab League.

Sheikh Tariq Al-Fadhli, Vice Chairman of the Board for the Peaceful Movement to Liberate the South, in a statement issued Saturday called for the UN Security Council to implement resolutions 924 and 931 issued during Yemen’s 1994 civil war. Mr. Al Fadhli and other southern oppositionists allege that following the war, unity was imposed by military force contrary to international law. Many southerners describe the south of Yemen as an occupied country.

Mr. al Fadhli also endorsed the recommendations of a report by Human Rights Watch that urge the establishment of a UN human rights mission in Yemen. He called for an UN peacekeeping force to protect both the envisioned UN monitoring mission and Southern Yemenis from al Qaeda and aggression by the central government.

Following several years of anti-government protests and state violence in southern Yemen, Al Fadhli , a long time government ally , joined the southern opposition in February 2009. The move came after President Ali Abdullah Saleh asked him to arrange the assassination of four prominent southern opposition leaders, al Fadhli said to the Telegraph.

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