Sheffield’s South Yemeni community gathered outside the Town Hall yesterday in a call for action following the shelling of a funeral tent in their home country.
Up to 200 people gathered in protest against the violent clashes between Yemen’s security forces and a southern separatist movement.
Some 22 men, women and children were killed and 60 wounded in the attack in the Daleh province on December 27.
A number of those killed or injured were friends or relatives of Yemeni people living in Sheffield.
Dean Quassim, of the South Yemeni Community Association, said: “As South Yemenis we know a lot of families who have lost people in the attack.
“The South Yemeni community are coming out to condemn what’s happening.
“We also want our MPs to condemn the attacks on innocent people and an innocent movement. There’s an elderly man in Sheffield who has lost quite a few family members. It’s just a disaster – we must condemn these brutal attacks.”
Artillery shells hit the tent in the South Yemeni province of Daleh on December 27 following the funeral of a man who had reportedly been assassinated in the clashes. Witnesses told reporters an army tank fired the shells.
Dean, of Fir Vale, said: “There is a large South Yemeni community in Sheffield. We want our MPs to give their support to us. As we speak, troops are attacking villages and innocent people in areas in the south.”
Dean’s father, brother and cousins still live in South Yemen and he said he dreads receiving phone calls from his family in case there is bad news.
“They are part of the peaceful demonstrations,” he said.
“Sometimes you see a phone number come up on your phone, you see it’s from Yemen and you don’t want to answer it because you don’t know what news you are going to receive. It’s terrifying.”
South Yemen was an independent state until unification with the north in 1990, and a short civil war was fought in 1994.
In the aftermath of an uprising against the rule of President Saleh in 2011, separatist tensions became more prominent and al-Qaeda has established strongholds in the south.