Human Rights Watch urges Yemen separatist killing probe

Published January 12th, 2015 - 05:00 GMT

Human Rights Watch has urged the Yemeni government to “credibly and impartially” investigate the killing of a key leader of a southern separatist movement in the port city of Aden.

The well-known figure in the Southern Movement, Khaled al-Junaidi, 42, was shot in the chest by security forces who were trying to arrest him in Aden on December 15, 2014.

Witnesses said Junaidi was preparing to take part in a demonstration demanding independence for the south.

“Yemeni authorities should credibly and impartially investigate the apparent extrajudicial execution of a leading political activist…and bring those responsible to justice,” New York-based HRW said in a statement on Sunday.

It added that the Yemeni authorities had announced the formation of a committee to investigate the killing but no arrests have been made so far.

"The Yemeni government has an abysmal record of holding security force members accountable for serious rights abuses," Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa director at HRW, said.

She added that failure to seek justice in the killing of the separatist leader would only fuel “anti-government resentment” and send a message that the Yemeni security forces are beyond the reach of law.

Junaidi was freed from prison in December after spending five months in detention for leading the separatist movement.

Police authorities, however, have claimed that he was shot when security forces opened fire to disperse a demonstration in the city.

The southerners have been pushing for independence from the north for years. The Southern Movement has been staging a regular sit-in in central Aden since mid-October to demand secession.

Growing demands for independence by southern separatists have been one of several challenges facing Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi since he took office three years ago following mass protests that led to the ouster of the country’s former dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

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