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US-based Yemenis protested against the US harbouring Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh outside New York's five star Carlton Ritz Hotel where he was staying, Sunday.

A crowd chanted “I.C.C., not N.Y.C.!” and one protester was arrested for throwing a shoe at Saleh, which missed its target. The brother of the arrested man said ‘Saleh should be behind bars, not at a luxury hotel’, reported the Wall Street Journal.

One protester, a 38 year old engineer, said ‘I pay 30% taxes, and my money goes to protecting a dictator?’

Saleh is accused of killing hundreds of Yemeni revolutionaries and wounding thousands more during 11 months of protests which rocked his regime.

However a Gulf-backed deal, supported by the US and the West, has ensured that Saleh’s regime remain in power. Saleh’s right hand man, Vice President Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi is the only candidate standing in Presidential elections scheduled for 21 February, breaching Yemen’s constitution.

A statement released by the Yemeni American Coalition for Change (YACC) criticised US President Barack Obama ‘for allowing Ali Abdullah Saleh, a dictator with the blood of peaceful protesters on his hands, to come to the U.S. under the protection of legal immunity.’

‘In the past year, Saleh and his supporters have murdered, injured, kidnapped and tortured countless Yemeni citizens, the overwhelming majority of whom have been engaged in nothing more than a peaceful but uncompromising demand for political and civil rights.’

The US state department claims Saleh is only to stay until he has received medical attention for wounds received when his presidential compound was attacked in June last year. However Saleh’s spokespeople claim the dictator is visiting to ‘calm’ protests at home. Saleh’s visit contradicts a 2011 Directive on Mass Atrocities which ‘explicitly’ bans war criminals from visiting the US.

YACC spokesperson Ibraham Qatabi said protesters ‘would not relax and we would not stop until Saleh is on trial, until the murderer is being prosecuted’.

Tagged under: Middle East
Dan Poulton

Dan Poulton

Dan is a writer, broadcaster and campaigner.  His most recent documentary was The New Scramble For Africa and his documentaries have appeared regularly on the Islam Channel. He is an organiser for Counterfire and a regular contributor to Counterfire site.

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