Press briefing note - Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia

Spokesperson: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva

11 March 2011

We have received an allegation that in Bahrain, a call for three human rights defenders to be "killed and liquidated" has been circulated on social networking websites (including Facebook). The message names Mr. Mohammed Al Masqati, president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, Mr. Naji Fateel, who is another member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, and Mr. Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, a former director at Frontline Defenders. The message that is circulating calls them "traitors" and "heads of sedition and incitement," and provides full personal identification details, including their names, ID card numbers, home address and telephone numbers, even the makes, models, year and registration plate of their cars, as well as their place of work. It also provides ID card photographs of the individuals.

OHCHR is extrmely concerned about these threats, which clearly constitute incitement, and calls upon the authorities to ensure effective protection for the three named individuals.

We are very concerned by allegations of excessive use of force on the part of the government security forces in Yemen. We call on the government to exercise restraint and to investigate all allegations of extrajudicial killings and human rights violations by the country's security forces. Some 37 protesters and at least 6 security officers are reported to have been killed so far since the unrest started in Yemen.

We call on the Government of Yemen to investigate all the killings, including the following: the alleged killing of two demonstrators at the University of Sana’a on 9 March 2011 -- in addition the two who were killed, some 70-80 students were reportedly injured by security forces during the demonstrations in front of Sanaa University on Tuesday 8 March. The security forces are alleged to have shot rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd. Other incidents that need investigating include the reported killing of two or three prisoners in riots at Sana'a's central prison on 8 March; and the alleged killing of two protesters on 4 March near the town of Harf Sufyan.

Saudi Arabia
We are concerned about what may happen later today in Saudi Arabia, where the situation is very tense. Live fire was reportedly used against demonstrators in the eastern part of the country yesterday, and a number of people were arrested.

As in other such situations in the Middle East, we urge restraint on the part of the authorities -- and the protestors. We also stress that people should be allowed to exercise their internationally recognized rights to freedom of assembly and and freedom of expression.

High Commissioner to visit Guinea and Senegal
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay will undertake her first offical mission to West Africa starting Sunday. visiting Guinea from 13-15 March and Senegal from 15-18 March. She is scheduled to meet the Presidents and senior ministers in both countries. More details will be made available in a separate media advisory later today