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Women’s rights campaigner accuses Yemeni opposition of human rights violations

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Summary of story from The Guardian, October 2, 2011

A women’s rights campaigner in Yemen has claimed that key figures in the anti-government protest movement are responsible for some of the worst atrocities during the country’s unrest.

She accuses three men: General Ali Moh – a former ally of  President Saleh, Sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar, and his brother Hameed al-Ahmar- leaders of the largest tribal grouping in Sana’a, who have their own separate militia.

‘Sara’ – who didn’t give her real name out of fear for her family and colleagues in Yemen – says that all three have close ties with the main opposition party in Yemen, al-Islah – one of whose leaders is Abdul Majid al-Zindani, labelled a ‘terrorist’ by the US and the UN.

“It was not President Saleh who threatened my life or made me too frightened to carry on with my work or stay in Yemen, it was the opposition,” said Sara.

At the start of the uprising Sara continued her work encouraging young women into education and the professions. When conservative forces, who had in the past attacked her work, started harassing her she resisted their intimidation. The Saleh government upheld the right of women to be educated.

However, she reluctantly fled Yemen when foreign human rights workers said they had information that her life was in danger.

“I don’t blame the protesters. But behind them is sheltering the real opposition. In reality it contains some of those who are the cause of corruption in the first place in Saleh’s government.”

Sara is now seeking asylum in London. “As soon as I am not in danger, I will go back, but I don’t know when that will be,” she said.

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