Geneva-Sana’a – Brazen abduction and torture by members of the Houthi clan and militias affiliated with former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh have occurred at an alarming rate since July 2014, reveals a new report by the Geneva-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and the Yemeni Alliance for Human Rights-Peace Winds (Alliance of 100 Yemeni humanitarian organizations and groups).
The organizations documented 7,049 cases of abduction by the Houthis and Saleh-affiliated groups between July 2014 and October2015 —1,910 of which were forced disappearances (which occur in secret and are not acknowledged) and 2,478 continue to be held to this day.
The abductions were reported in 17 different Yemeni governorates, with the majority (1,255) documented in the Capital Secretariat. Nearly 1,000 abductions were documented in March of this year, only one week after the Arab coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia declared a war against “coup supporters” in Yemen.
“This report relies on solid, specific, statistical evidence, as well as eyewitness testimony from victims, their families or others,” says Ihsan Adel, Euro-Med Monitor legal adviser. “The report also coincides with resumption of negotiations in Geneva between the warring parties. Let’s hope the talks bring these atrocities to a permanent end, not just the temporary end promised by both sides during a seven-day truce.”
The report, titled “A Yemeni Nightmare: Abduction to Freedom, or Disappearance,” documents the kidnapping of 263 children by Houthi and Saleh-affiliated militias. Some of the children were forced to fight along with their abductors or held hostage to pressure their parents to either turn themselves in or stop their activities against the militias. Among the cases documented are three peoplewith disabilities.
Most abductees were public figures, opponents, members of the Al-Islah party, activists, academics or journalists. Sixty-five percent were either university graduates or students, including 12 professors and 148 journalists. Euro-Med and the Yemeni Alliance conclude that the militias use abductions as a means of blackmail in an attempt to force family members to pay money in return for their loved ones’ release or information on their fate. Of the cases documented, 23 persons were mssing for three to 10 months.
In addition, 1,077 cases of torture were documented, including physical beatings, hanging, electric shocks, burning with cigarettes and exposure to extremely hot water. Four abductees were killed while being tortured, and three others died shortly after they were released.
The majority of the victims were abducted from homes, places of employment or checkpoints, and imprisoned in jails and interrogation centers controlled by the militias, or in other places used as prisons—both of which lack basic conditions required for safety and health. The report documents at least six cases in which individuals were used as human shields, with some in the city of Dhamar forced to stay in a military site to prevent targeting by the Arab Coalition. Twelve of them died as as result. The report calls on the Arab Coalition to take the use of civilians as human shields into consideration and avoid targeting places where civilians are known to be located.
For further information, contact:
- Ihsan Adel; Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor: +447578488855
- Ahmed Ali Alzubairy; The Yemeni Alliance for Human Rights: +967-771052008
Click here to read the report