Houthis cage 20,000 ab­ductees in 790 jails, says rights group

The Ira­nian-backed mili­tia also planted thou­sands of land mines that killed hun­dreds

Arab News - - News Middle East - Saeed Al-Batati Al-Mukalla

Ira­nian-backed Houthi mili­tias have in­car­cer­ated around 20,000 ab­ductees in 790 pris­ons in Ye­meni ar­eas un­der their con­trol, hu­man rights chiefs have re­vealed.

The rebel fight­ers were on Satur­day ac­cused of car­ry­ing out sweep­ing hu­man rights abuses against their op­po­nents since seiz­ing power in Yemen by force in 2014.

A vir­tual meet­ing of the Ye­meni Coali­tion to Mon­i­tor Hu­man Rights Vi­o­la­tions, known as the Rasd Coali­tion, heard that tens of thou­sands of peo­ple who had chal­lenged the Houthis’ rule were be­ing held in se­cret and known jails.

The coali­tion also re­ported that the armed group had re­cruited 7,000 chil­dren and was re­spon­si­ble for plant­ing thou­sands of land­mines that had killed 6,000 peo­ple.

Speak­ing at

the

gath­er­ing, which brought to­gether hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions from in­side and out­side of Yemen, the coali­tion’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Mu­ta­har Al-Bad­hiji, said the meet­ing aimed to high­light Houthi ac­tions that had fu­eled the world’s worst hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis at a time when the frag­ile Ye­meni health sys­tem was bat­tling to cope with the coro­n­avirus dis­ease (COVID-19) pan­demic.

Houthis have re­peat­edly come un­der heavy crit­i­cism from lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional rights groups for ar­bi­trar­ily ab­duct­ing their op­po­nents and sup­press­ing protests in the city of Sanaa and other prov­inces in north­ern Yemen. A Houthi-con­trolled court re­cently sen­tenced four Ye­meni jour­nal­ists to death, a move that trig­gered global con­dem­na­tion. The move­ment has also vowed to ex­e­cute dozens of leg­is­la­tors, jour­nal­ists, ac­tivists, and mil­i­tary of­fi­cers who switched sides and backed the in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized gov­ern­ment.

Na­jeeb Al-Saadi, head of the ex­ec­u­tive unit in Yemen for in­ter­nally dis­placed peo­ple, told sym­po­sium del­e­gates that the Ye­meni con­flict had forced 3.66 mil­lion peo­ple to flee their homes and take shel­ter in 521 dis­place­ment camps in the coun­try.

The num­ber of dis­placed Ye­me­nis has in­creased since the be­gin­ning of this year as a re­sult of heavy fight­ing be­tween Houthi and gov­ern­ment forces in Marib prov­ince and Ne­him dis­trict, near Sanaa.

Mean­while, the main road be­tween the south­ern Ye­meni prov­ince of Abyan and Aden was re­opened on Sun­day as bat­tles be­tween gov­ern­ment troops and separatist­s ended, a day after Yemen’s Pres­i­dent Abed Rabbo Man­sour Hadi or­dered his mil­i­tary in Abyan to stop fight­ing.

“We are com­mit­ted to the or­der of our lead­er­ship. We stopped fight­ing and re­opened the road to Aden,” an army of­fi­cer, who wished to re­main anony­mous, told Arab News.

On Satur­day, Hadi told his troops to com­mit to the truce in Abyan and urged the separatist­s to halt hos­til­i­ties in the south­ern prov­ince and abide by the terms of the Riyadh Agree­ment.

In April, the sep­a­ratist South­ern Tran­si­tional Coun­cil (STC) an­nounced self-rule in south Yemen, push­ing the gov­ern­ment into mount­ing an of­fen­sive to ex­pel its forces from Aden.

Else­where, fight­ing broke out on Satur­day in Taiz when Houthis shelled the densely pop­u­lated south­ern city be­fore con­duct­ing a ground push aimed at seiz­ing con­trol of new ar­eas on the city’s western edges.

Yemen’s De­fense Min­istry said that army troops pushed back the Houthi at­tack and killed and wounded nu­mer­ous rebels dur­ing a two-hour bat­tle. Heavy fight­ing was also re­ported on Sun­day in the cen­tral prov­ince of Al-Bayda amid con­firmed re­ports that the Houthis had seized con­trol of ar­eas in Qa­nia dis­trict.

The na­tional emer­gency coro­n­avirus com­mit­tee in Aden re­ported that the to­tal num­ber of con­firmed COVID-19 in­fec­tions in gov­ern­ment-con­trolled ar­eas now stood at 1,103, with 296 deaths and 417 re­cov­er­ies.

FASTFACT

Houthis have re­peat­edly come un­der heavy crit­i­cism from lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional rights groups for ar­bi­trar­ily ab­duct­ing their op­po­nents and sup­press­ing protests in the city of Sanaa and other prov­inces in north­ern Yemen.

Reuters/File

Houthi mil­i­tants dur­ing a tribal gath­er­ing held in Sanaa. The Rasd Coali­tion says Houthi mili­tia’s vi­o­la­tions fu­eled the world’s worst hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in Yemen.

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