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Yemen: Thousands of women demonstrate, dozens injured

By Mohammed Jamjoom and Hakim Almasmari, CNN
updated 5:06 PM EDT, Mon October 10, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Witnesses: At least 38 women were injured during a march in Taiz Sunday
  • They were marching in support of Nobel prize winner Tawakkol Karman
  • Female protesters marched in three Yemeni provinces on Sunday --Taiz, Shabwa and Sanaa
  • Human rights activist: The government wants "to make people afraid to demonstrate"

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- Days after a prominent Yemeni human rights activist became the first Arab woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, dozens of women were injured after gangs attacked during a march in her honor, witnesses in the city of Taiz said Monday.

Thousands of women gathered in the southern Yemeni city to celebrate Tawakkol Karman's honor Sunday. Demonstrators also called on the international community to support a revolution in Yemen, witnesses said.

At least 38 women were injured by rocks and batons when pro-government gangs attacked at Sunday's march, said Yasser al-Nusari, a medic in Taiz's Freedom Square. Abdulhaleem Al-Madashi, a spokesman for the protest movement there, corroborated that account.

The Yemeni government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Abdullah Sabri, a youth activist in Taiz, said that pro-government thugs using batons and rocks attacked.

"It's a shame to attack women.... Rocks were randomly thrown directly towards the female marchers," Sabri said.

Female protesters marched in three Yemeni provinces on Sunday --Taiz, Shabwa and Sanaa. The largest took place in Sanaa where at least 15,000 females marched down the capital's Cairo Street.

In Shabwa, thousands of women also march in support of Karman, calling on the United Nations to impose sanctions against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's ruling family.

Prominent Yemeni human rights activist Khalid Al-Anesi, based in Sanaa, received numerous reports of the attacks and injuries in Taiz and holds Saleh's regime responsible.

"They want to make people afraid to demonstrate," Al-Anesi told CNN.

"Women heard that Tawakkol Karman had won the Nobel Prize and they wanted to come out to support her winning. Then more women started planning to demonstrate and women had huge marches yesterday in Yemen," he said. "During the Taiz march, pro-Saleh gangs attacked women marchers and over 20 were injured. This is a way for Saleh's government to send a message that women shouldn't demonstrate."

At Sunday's march in Taiz, protesters also called on the United Nations to intervene in forcing Saleh to step down from power and repeated a refrain for Saleh to be tried.

"Saleh Saleh will stand trial," women chanted as they marched for more than three hours, according to witnesses.

Government supporters also verbally harassed some female marchers, witnesses said.

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