Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh [official website, in Arabic] declared a state of emergency [text, in Arabic] throughout the country on Friday. The state of emergency will last 30 days and gives security forces greater powers to maintain order and also includes a ban on citizens carrying arms in public. There is also a possibility that the state of emergency includes a curfew. The decree came after 25 protesters were killed [Reuters report] on Friday at an anti-government rally in the country's capital of Sana'a. Police were present at the rally to ensure control, but Saleh stated at a press conference [statement, in Arabic] that the police did not use live rounds on the crowd and that the shootings were the result of confrontations between protesters and local residents. Saleh stated that a "committee of neutral bodies" will investigate the incident and called those killed during the protest "martyrs of democracy."
Yemen is not the first country to declare a state of emergency in the midst of anti-government protests this week. On Sunday, Bahraini lawmakers called on King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa [official website] to declare a state of emergency [JURIST report] and invoke martial law after 5,000 protesters marched to demand an end to the monarchy. Bahrain officially declared martial law [JURIST report] on Tuesday. Yemeni authorities have previously been criticized for their counter-terror methods. In August, Amnesty International [advocacy website] criticized methods used by the government [JURIST report] as violations of human rights. These methods included arbitrary arrests, torture, extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances, among other actions taken by security forces.