UAE/Yemen: Release of 12 former Guantanamo detainees held by Abu Dhabi
Families of Yemeni detainees in Guantanamo Bay, UAE, have expressed their joy at the release of their 12 detainees after a journey of suffering that lasted nearly 20 years, expressing their thanks for the efforts of human rights organisations that supported their claims and made their voices heard in the world, until their freedom was finally restored
For years, the issue of Guantanamo detainees has been at the top of Alkarama's agenda, through various support and advocacy mechanisms. Alkarama has organised or participated in numerous field actions alongside the families of the detainees and non-governmental organisations, in order to highlight the suffering of the victims of this notorious detention and their families.
By releasing them, the UAE will have completed the release of the remaining 18 Yemeni detainees returning from Guantanamo, which Abu Dhabi has hosted since 2015, but has not committed to caring for them and guaranteeing their rights. The United Arab Emirates handed them over to the Yemeni government on Wednesday 27 October when they arrived on an Emirati plane at Mukalla airport in Hadhramout, eastern Yemen.
According to the American Center for Justice (ACJ), a recent non-governmental human rights organisation in Yemen based in Michigan, USA, the Yemeni government authorities handed over the released detainees to their families without hindrance, the detainees are: 1- Majid Mahmoud Abdo Ahmed 2- Bashir Nasser Ali Al-Marwala 3- Abdul-Mohsen Abdul-Rab Al-Bais 4- Zaher Omar bin Hamdoun 5- Ali Ahmed Muhammad Al-Razhi 6- Fahmy Salem Saeed Al-Asani 7- Yassin Muhammad Ismail 8- Rahman Abdo Abu Al-Ghaith Suleiman 9- Mahmoud Abdulaziz Abdul-Wali Al-Mujahid 10- Adel Saeed Al-Haj 11- Murshid Ali Saleh 12- Abdul Qadir Al Muzaffari
The first group of Yemeni Guantanamo detainees held in the United Arab Emirates arrived in Hadramout last July, including six of the 18 detainees hosted by the UAE government, but their rights were violated and their release was only possible after extensive media and human rights campaigns.
Despite this breakthrough in the tragedy of Yemeni detainees in Guantanamo, Alkarama expresses its concern for the fate of the remaining Yemeni detainees in Guantanamo, and hopes for their immediate and unrestricted release and safe return. Alkarama also urges the Yemeni authorities and the international community to help these released detainees who have been victims of prolonged detention to resume their normal lives, reunite them with their families, and make amends for the harm they have suffered.
In October 2020, UN human rights experts condemned the UAE for the arbitrary detention and continued ill-treatment of Yemeni detainees returning from Guantanamo.
According to human rights sources, about 39 detainees of different nationalities are still being held in Guantanamo, about half of whom are Yemenis, while there is a decision calling for the release of two Yemeni prisoners: Abdul Salam Al-Hela and Ali Al-Haj Sharqawi and the latest recordings revealed that he was tortured during interrogation by the Central Intelligence Agency after his arrest in Pakistan in 2002.
Documents released by the Pentagon's "Periodic Review Board", which evaluates the cases of detainees at Guantanamo every period, showed that their release was approved on 8 June 2021, but Alkarama has not received information on the implementation of the decision.
A 2019 report published by Physicians for Human Rights stated that Ali Al-Haj Sharqawi was suffering from several health problems, some of which were exacerbated in 2017, following his weeks-long hunger strike.