REPUBLIC OF YEMEN: Peaceful protesters targets of Huthis’ disturbing ‘torture-tactics’

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5 Mar 2015
[International Secretariat]

New harrowing testimony collected by Amnesty International experts in Yemen reveal how members of the Huthi armed group are torturing protesters in a bid to dissuade dissent.
“The Huthi stooped to a dangerous new level of intimidation and violence to strike fear into anyone protesting their rule,” said Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International, currently in Yemen.

Among those who spoke to Amnesty International are Ali Taher al-Faqih, 34, and ‘Abdeljalil al-Subari, 40, who were seized during a peaceful demonstration in Sana’a on 11 February (held to commemorate the 11 February 2011 uprising). The two men were arrested alongside Salah ‘Awdh al-Bashri, a 35-year-old father of seven, who later died from the injuries he suffered after hours of torture.

The three, alongside a fourth activist who was not tortured, were taken to an unknown location, where they were held in a basement until the evening of 13 February.

When Amnesty International met the men on 15 February the marks and scars of their torture were still very evident with deep bruises and, in the case of Abdeljalil al-Subari, open wounds on their buttocks.

Ali Taher al-Faqih told Amnesty International: “The first to be taken was Salah [al-Bashri]. I did not see him again until we were released at about 2 am (on 14 February). Salah could not move or stand, not even when we tried to help him up, and could not speak. He just whispered ‘I’m thirsty’.”

“We went to hospital, where Salah was given some basic care. There were Huthis in the hospital, some in military wear, and we were afraid that they would abduct us again so we left the hospital and drove home [two hours away], but Salah’s conditions deteriorated and he died on the way.”

In an earlier case, 21-year-old student activist Ahmad al-Thubhani was seized following a protest on the morning of 7 February near the New Sana’a University. Five members of the Huthi armed group followed the taxi he was travelling in, stopped it and seized him. He was held for five days.

 “After I told them that I was against militias, they whipped me 20 times in a row, mostly on my back and legs, and forced me to write down names of protest leaders and activists”. Photographs of his scars examined by Amnesty International are consistent with his story.

“The Huthis must put an immediate stop to their illegal tactics of arbitrary detentions, torture other ill-treatment. Yemen’s General Prosecutor must promptly investigate these and other similar cases and bring those responsible to justice,” said Donatella Rovera.

Background information

The Huthis, mostly members of the (northern) Zaidi Shi’a minority who were repeatedly targeted by the regime of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh (in six conflicts) between 2004 and 2010, are now allegedly targeting their critics and subjecting them to some of the same human rights violations which were inflicted on them by the previous regime.

The group took over some army and security positions in Sana'a in September 2014. By the third week of January 2015 they had attacked military positions, the Presidential compounds and government buildings. This led to the resignation of President Abd Rabbu Mansour al-Hadi and his government and the Huthis becoming the de-facto rulers of the capital and other parts of Yemen.

16 February 2015

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