Yemenis protest as anti-Saleh detainees go on hunger strike

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Hundreds of Yemenis staged a sit-in on Tuesday demanding the release of dozens of activists detained during the uprising against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, some of whom have gone on hunger strike.

Activists and relatives gathered for the second consecutive day outside the office of the public prosecutor, whom they hold responsible for keeping the detainees behind bars since 2011, an AFP correspondent reported.

In total, 58 men who participated in protests that forced Saleh to step down in February 2012, remain incarcerated, while the fate of 17 others remains unknown, according to local rights group Hood.

The organization said 20 detainees began a hunger strike on Friday, escalating pressure to release them.

During the uprising, part of the Arab Spring wave of protests, demonstrators frequently clashed with security forces and partisans of the then leader.

Protesters urged President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi in a statement to “dismiss the public prosecutor and implement [the president’s] decision to free those detained during the revolution.”

In March, Hadi issued a decree ordering the release of those detained during the revolution, and activists accuse the public prosecutor, a holdover from the Saleh era, of ignoring it.

Activists said some of the detainees are suspected of involvement in an attack on Saleh, in June 2011, which killed 11 of his guards.

Hadi was elected in February 2012 as part of a U.N.-backed, Gulf-brokered exit deal that eased veteran Saleh out of office after 33 years in power, and ended a year of protests.