The Arab world continued to be rocked by defiant anti-government
protests Sunday, with the toll in Libya said to cross 200. The
stir also spread to Morocco and for the first time, China too
witnessed demonstrators gathering in at least two major cities.
Protesters took to the streets in the Chinese cities of Beijing
and Shanghai Sunday, inspired by the popular unrest that has swept
Egypt and other Arab countries, DPA reported.
Police promptly dispersed crowds of several hundred people in both
cities, said Xinhua news agency.
Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy
said that more than 100 Chinese activists have been placed under
house arrest or are in police custody in the two cities.
The gathering was in response to a call over in the internet in 13
Chinese cities for a "Jasmine Revolution", referring to the
January unrest that led to Tunisian leader Zine el-Abidine Ben
Ali's ouster. However, information has filtered out about only two
Sunday continued to be tense in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi,
that a day earlier saw the deaths of at least 15 people who were
shot dead while attending the funeral of anti-government
More than 200 people have been killed over the past two days, a
doctor in Benghazi told Al Jazeera TV.
Ali Belqasem said that bodies showed they were either shoot in the
head or chest. "All young, all unarmed," said Belqasem.
There was no confirmed reports about protests in the city, whilst
activists said in online posts that they have also lost all
contact with people in Benghazi.
The London-based news website Libya al-Youm, which put the death
toll in Banghazi at 208, said the army had used rocket-propelled
grenades and other heavy weapons on protesters.
Emboldened by successful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, people
in Benghazi have taken to the streets to demand an end to the rule
of 68-year-old Muammar Gaddafi, who has ruled the country ever
since he took over the reins in a coup Sep 1, 1969.
Ahmed, a businessman in Benghazi, told Al Jazeera that hospitals
were running out of blood as they were overwhelmed with the number
of the injured following the crackdown by security forces
"It's a big, big massacre. We've never heard of anything like this
before. It's horrible," he was quoted as saying.
In Morocco, a large number of protesters gathered Sunday for the
first time with a youth movement vowing to go ahead with its plans
for staging peaceful nationwide protests.
Citing Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV, Xinhua reported that the
movement in Morocco called for the protests on social networking
website Facebook, inspired by pro-democracy protests in Tunisia
"Sunday is the genuine start for our struggle and there is no
pull-out of it whatever rumours are being circulated," the Feb 20
Movement for Change said in a statement.
The outlawed Islamist Justice and Charity, reportedly Morocco's
biggest opposition force, and some leftist groups said they would
take part in the rally.
In Algeria, several people were injured when police used batons to
break up a pro-democracy rally in capital Algiers.
Police brandishing clubs, but no firearms, wove their way through
the crowd of about 50 opposition supporters in central Algiers
Saturday, banging their shields, tackling some protesters and
keeping traffic flowing through the planned march route, Al
The gathering, organised by the Co-ordination for Democratic
Change in Algeria (CNCD), comes a week after a similar protest.
In Bahrain, thousands of anti-government protesters camped out in
Manama's Pearl Square, as opposition parties are expected to hold
talks with the regime of Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.
Demonstrators say they will stay at the square until the regime
collapses, Iran's Press TV reported Sunday.
Yemen, seeing demands for ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh,
witnessed seven more deaths, including a policeman, in clashes
between government supporters and pro-democracy protesters.
Four people died during protests in the southern port city of Aden
Saturday, and a student was killed in the city of Taiz, Press TV
reported Sunday. Anti-government protesters armed with rifles
Sunday shot dead a police officer in Yemen's southern region of
Aden, Xinhua reported, quoting the police.
Saturday was the ninth consecutive day that demonstrators had
called for the ouster of Saleh, after 32 years of autocratic rule.
Saleh Sunday offered to open a dialogue with the opposition,
declaring in a speech to businessmen and local politicians that he
was ready to talk about all "legitimate demands".
Earlier in a speech on national television, Saleh renewed his call
for the opposition coalition to take part in a national dialogue
that will stave off the chaos.
Jordanian King Abdullah II pledged to pursue swift and effective
reforms in a rare meeting with personnel of the country's three
branches of government in Amman.
He also warned officials against hiding behind him and said he
would no longer accept ministers blaming their actions on their
The Syrian government, apparently fearing that the regional
uprisings in the Middle East would have domestic repercussions,
started giving out cash payments to thousands of poor people in an
effort to tackle the high levels of poverty.
Opposition groups have been calling on Syrians to protest what
they call the "oppressive regime" of President Bashar al Assad.