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Yemen - Change Square - thousands of anti-government demonstrators in tents since February

Yemen regime massacres dozens as Saleh considers immunity deal
By Will Morrow
22 October 2011
Thousands participated in funerals on October 19 for more than 30 protesters killed by the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh over the previous week. President Saleh remains recalcitrant, refusing to sign a power transfer initiative backed by the US and European powers that would grant him immunity from prosecution.

The recent wave of killings began on October 15, when an estimated 300,000 people marched beyond their encampment in the capital Sana'a. The protest base, dubbed "Change Square", consists of a stretch of road of several kilometres, where thousands of anti-government demonstrators and opposition tribesmen have slept in tents since February.

Witnesses told the Guardian that plainclothes police officers fired on the protesters as they reached a key intersection on Al-Zubeiri Road, which marks the dividing line between areas of the capital controlled by the government and sections held by troops who have defected to the opposition. "We didn't hear any soldiers, we just heard gunshots coming from the houses all around us," said Ahmed Bin Mubarak, a professor at Sana'a University. Mohammed Al Qubati, a surgeon at Change Square, told the Guardian: "Most of the protesters were shot in the back of the head or neck."

Despite the regime's repressive response, protesters continued to march beyond their encampment over the following three days. People have reportedly begun to write their names on their bodies for identification in case they are killed. According to Associated Press, another four people were killed in a march on October 16, while 12 people were killed and 70 injured on October 18.

The protests, and the self-sacrifice involved in them, unquestionably reflect genuine opposition to the regime and social discontent over the conditions facing the population. Since January, the price of bread has risen by more than 50 percent in Yemen, which has an official poverty rate of 40 percent. The malnutrition rates for children under five are as high as 30 percent, according to the United Nations...

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