Yemen: 29 Activists Arrested by Houthi-Saleh Coalition for Organising Peaceful March
On 21 October 2015, Alkarama sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) regarding the case of 29 activists arrested on 12 October 2015 by the Houthi-Saleh Coalition in the central Yemeni city of Ibb during an open meeting held to prepare a peaceful march organised to provide drinking water to the population of the besieged city of Taiz.
As Yemeni activists were preparing, at the Jardin Hotel in Ibb, for a 65km march which would be accompanied by trucks carrying drinking water for the population of Taiz, under siege for months, a large group of heavily armed Houthi-Saleh Coalition forces stormed into the hotel, confiscating all mobile phones they could find and arresting 29 activists before taking them to the Political Security Prison, currently under the command of the Houthi-Saleh Coalition.
Although the Houthi-Saleh Coalition later released 23 of the detained men, six activists believed to be the main organisers of the march and affiliated with the Yemeni Congregation for Reform – a strong opponent of the Houthi-Saleh Coalition – remain detained incommunicado at the Political Security Prison. According to the released detainees, all activists were subjected to ill-treatment at the Political Security Prison such as being detained in overcrowded cells, deprived of food and hygiene items, as well as being subjected to acts of torture, such as electrical shocks during questionings.
"The situation in the prison was very difficult; we did not receive enough food and the cells were overcrowded," says Samid Al Samaey, one of the released activists. "We were only allowed to use the bathroom three times per day at specific times; for the rest of the day, we had to use bottles."
Concerned over the wellbeing of their relatives, on 15 October 2015 the families of the six activists organised a protest demanding their release. They also seized Alkarama in the hope that the organisation could help release their relatives. In view of these facts, Alkarama urged the UN Working Groups on arbitrary detention (WGAD) to request the Houthi-Saleh Coalition to release all activists immediately.
"We are very concerned by the recurring accounts of arrests and detention of activists, lawyers and journalists by the Houthi-Saleh who punish these individuals for merely peacefully expressing themselves," said Radidja Nemar, Regional Legal Officer for the Gulf at Alkarama. "We are even more worried of accounts that persons detained by these forces are not treated humanely and that families are left in complete ignorance of the fate of their loved ones. These are serious violations of fundamental rights of these persons and can amount to crime against humanity if carried out on a large scale and systematically."
Concerned over the systematic violations of human rights committed in Yemen against activists and opposing voices by State and non-State actors in Yemen, Alkarama calls on all parties to the conflict to:
- Respect the fundamental rules of international human rights law and treat individual under their control humanely;
- Put an end to the practice of arbitrary and incommunicado detention;
- Release all detainees arrested for exercising their freedom of expression;
- Stop retaliating against peaceful activists; and
- Prosecute and punish perpetrators of human rights violations.
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