Foreign Affairs


Yemen uses nerve gas on protesters violating international law.

by Global Post:

Yemenis protest against the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa on March 9, 2011, the morning after a Yemeni protester died of gunshot wounds after being hit when police opened fire overnight on anti-regime demonstrators in Sanaa, a medical official said. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

Doctors from the scene of violent anti-government protests in Yemen’s capital Tuesday night said that what was originally thought to be tear gas fired by government forces on demonstrators might instead have been a form of nerve gas, which is forbidden under international law.

Military personnel opened fire and used what was originally assumed to be tear gas to disperse a group of demonstrators who were trying to bring additional tents into the protest area outside Sanaa University. “The material in this gas makes people convulse for hours. It paralyzes them. They couldn’t move at all. We tried to give them oxygen but it didn’t work,” said Amaar Nujaim, a field doctor who works for Islamic Relief.

“They say it’s tear gas, though it’s not. I can’t move my body. I went into a coma for more than four hours and I can’t see well now. I also have internal bleeding after being exposed to the gas,” he told GlobalPost.

Whether or not an illegal substance was used to gas protesters, Tuesday’s violence marked what appears to be a turning point for the country’s protest movement, which has dragged on for months. The attack Tuesday was the first by uniformed police.

There have been daily anti-government demonstrations in Sanaa and other cities around the country since Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster on Feb. 11. During the past few weeks, 29 people have been killed in the unrest, according to international human rights groups.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh has said he will step down when his term ends in 2013 but has vowed to defend his government “with every drop of blood.”

Global Post

The type of nerve gas used requires atrophine which blocks the nerve receptors from accepting the gas. In order for it to be effective, a doctor must inject into a vein. There is no pills or fluid antidotes. The aftereffects may include body trembles.  The doctor in the video could not stop the patients from the gas’ effects because most third world countries are not equipped with the antidote (U.S hospitals would carry it).

President Ali Abdullah Saleh broke international law by using nerve gas on protesters. The United Nations must condemn this act and the International Criminal Court must issue a warrant for his arrest.