AI report: Houthis arbitrarily detain opposition in Yemen

Amnesty International releases report statement that documents pressures over Yemeni opposition by Houthi forces and Saleh loyalists since beginning of Saudi-led air strikes

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Amnesty International published a public statement report on Tuesday that evidenced political pressures and intimidation carried by Iranian backed Houthis and allied forces loyal to the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against Yemen’s opposition during the Saudi-led air strike operations.

The report titled as “Yemen: Opposition targeted, detained arbitrarily and kidnapped by Houthis and Saleh-loyalists” stated one month of political attitudes of Houthi militias and pro-Saleh forces towards Sunni opposition parties and groups.

“Scores of people from various political backgrounds across the country have been detained arbitrarily or abducted since the start of the Saudi-led coalition air strikes on March 26, the majority of whom are members of Al Islah, a Sunni Islamist political party,” the international watchdog organisation stated in its five-page report.

The Amnesty report has recorded a surge in arbitrary arrests, detentions and abductions carried out by the Houthi armed group and Saleh loyalists who have been advancing in the country since the military coup targeted President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in February.

The Houthis and ex-army officers loyal to the ex-Yemeni president Saleh, who was also forced to resign during the Arab spring, had started an offensive towards the capital Sanaa by the turn of last year.

Since then Yemen has been suffering from an ongoing civil war between Houthi militias and forces loyal to the internationally recognised President Hadi who was first forced to fled Aden where he established an interim government and then sheltered to Saudi Arabia.

According to the Amnesty International report, more than 60 people have been arrested in the capital Sanaa and the central Yemeni city of Ibb in the past two months.

The report claims that those arrested were mostly the certain political figures in the Al Islah Party leadership that voiced up their objections against the Houthi takeover of government institutions and did not criticise the Saudi-led coalition air strikes.

The reports underlined that the detainees “had been arbitrarily arrested without a prior arrest warrant and held incommunicado in unknown locations without access to their families.”

Some of the detainees were said to have been interviewed by the Amnesty in the report which they told their bad experiences and fear of Houthis especially after the Saudi-led operations that began on March 26 onwards.

The report gives an interview with siblings al Hassan and al Hussein Dammaj, aged 30 and 29 respectively, about the detention of their 77 year-old father Mohamed Hasan Dammaj, a member of Al Islah leadership.

According to the interview, Dammaj was taken from his home in Al  district in Sanaa on April 6 without an official arrest warrant.

“A fleet of five military vehicles arrived packed with armed soldiers and members of Ansarullah (the Houthi political wing) searched the house and they initially took me, my father and two other relatives to Raslan Police Station where they interrogated us about what we do and what our position regarding the Saudi-led coalition is,” said al Hassan in his interview, according to the report statement.

“They released us on April 10 at 5pm, with the exception of my father, who was taken to an unknown location.” he added.

The UN human rights office has so far released the figures of civilian killings during the Saudi-led air strikes as being nearly 700, while 300,000 people are believed to have been displaced, according to the same stats.

Sending the ground forces into Yemen was a hotly-debated topic since the Saudi-led aerial operation did not halt the Houthis advancement towards the Gulf of Aden.

The Saudi-led operation, dubbed “Decisive Storm” started on March 26 and maintained throughout April.

The Arab coalition has leaned its involvement with the claim of “defending the legitimate government”  of the embattled President Hadi.

The aforementioned Saudi-led coalition accuses Iran of “irredentism” over Yemen through supporting the Houthi forces, hereby, spreading “aggressiveness” in the Gulf region.


TRTWorld and agencies