Yemen arrests female activist, students protest

Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:48am EST
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By Mohamed Sudam and Adel Al Khader

SANAA (Reuters) - Yemen has arrested a woman activist who led student rallies against the government in the capital last week, sparking a new wave of protests on Sunday.

Inspired by the ousting of Tunisia's president a week ago, Tawakul Karman led two protests at Sanaa University, criticizing autocratic Arab leaders and calling on Yemenis to topple President Ali Abdullah Saleh by using text messages and emails.

A security source said Karman, a member of the Islamist party Islah, was arrested by order of the General Prosecution Office.

Police stopped Karman on her way home early on Sunday and charged her with organizing unlicensed demonstrations without permission, said her husband Mohamed Ismail al-Nehmi, who was with her.

"I have no accurate information about her whereabouts," Nehmi told Reuters by phone. "Maybe at the central prison, maybe somewhere else, I don't know."

After Karman's arrest, several hundred students gathered outside Sanaa University, demanding her release.

Riot police beat up two TV cameramen filming the protests and confiscated their cameras, a Reuters eyewitness said. One was briefly arrested.

Some 50-60 policemen armed with shields and batons stopped the crowd, chanting "release the prisoners", from marching toward the general prosecutors' office, the witness said.   Continued...