The United Nations human rights office voiced concern today about the ongoing situation in Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, three Middle East countries where public protests against long-term leaders or regimes have been mounted in recent weeks.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has received an allegation that a message is circulating on social networking websites calling for three human rights defenders in Bahrain to be “killed and liquidated,” OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville told journalists today in Geneva.
The names, addresses, telephone numbers and other personal details about the three human rights defenders are identified, and their photographs are also shown, Mr. Colville said, noting that the message describes the three defenders as “traitors” and “heads of sedition and incitement.”
He said OHCHR was “extremely concerned about these threats, which clearly constitute incitement, and calls upon the authorities to ensure effective protection for the three named individuals.”
In Yemen, OHCHR is expressing concern following allegations that Government security forces have used excessive force against demonstrators and opposition figures. At least 37 protesters and six security officers are reported to have been killed so far since the unrest began.
“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,” Mr. Colville said.
Security forces are alleged to have killed two demonstrators at the University of Sana’a on 9 March, a day after dozens of students were injured following a similar protest. Other incidents include the reported killing of inmates at a prison in Sana’a and the slaying of two protesters on 4 March near the town of Harf Sufyan.
Turning to Saudi Arabia, OHCHR voiced concern about the “very tense” situation after live fire was reportedly used against demonstrators in the country’s east 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 protesters,” Mr. Colville said. “We also stress that people should be allowed to exercise their internationally recognized rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.”
Public protests have swept across the wider Middle East and North Africa since the start of the year, leading to the toppling of the long-term leaders of Tunisia and Egypt.