113 detainees killed by Houthi torture: Human rights report

Victims of Houthis’ torture during detention show their injuries.
Updated 11 January 2018
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113 detainees killed by Houthi torture: Human rights report

THE HAGUE: At least 113 people have been tortured to death in detention centers in Yemen run by the Houthis since the coup began, according to a human rights report.
The Netherlands-based foundation for human rights in the Arab world, Rights Radar (RR), announced on Tuesday that 113 detainees had been killed in Houthi centers since Sept. 21, 2014 and said some cases may qualify as war crimes.
RR said that it had investigated 113 killings under torture in illegal detention centers run by the Houthis in the capital Sanaa and other cities under Houthi control, along with the deaths of civilian detainees in prisons run by Yemeni forces loyal to the UAE in the governorates of Aden and Hadramout in southern Yemen.
Responding to the report, Yemeni Human Rights Minister Mohammed Askar told Arab News that the figures in the report were only estimates, and that the real figures were much higher.
Askar said that the number of cases of abduction and arbitrary detention in 2017 reached 1,930, including 400 forced-absence cases, which made last year the highest for the number of abductions.
He said that there had been more than 18,000 abductions since the beginning of the coup.
Askar said that the Yemeni government had documented arbitrary detention cases against members of the General People’s Congress after the assassination of Ali Abdullah Saleh, and confirmed the presence of hundreds of detention centers full of men and women who were tortured by Houthi militias, including leaders and members of the General People’s Congress and the Republican Guards.
Askar said that there were a large number of torture victims of these militias in Sanaa, Taiz, Hajjah and Dhamar, noting that Dhamar houses the biggest detention center in Yemen.
He said that the Yemeni government had sent a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which included initial figures of detainees, and noted that the government would publish a detailed report about the main violations against leaders and members of General People’s Congress and the Republican Guards.
Askar said that the Houthi militias were criminal groups who practiced state terrorism and did not respect human rights international norms, and that the Yemeni government had issued many reports about the number of people detained by them.
The RR report said that sources from human rights NGOs estimated the number of people inside Houthi detentions at 7,000, distributed over 643 illegal prisons across Yemen. Most of these detainees belong to the Yemeni Islah Party. Their number recently grew with new detainees, members of the General People’s Congress (GPC) of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh after the Houthi militants assassinated Saleh on Dec. 4, 2017 and started to arrest GPC supporters in Sanaa city.
International relations officer for Rights Radar, Gerard van der Kroon, said “the cases of murder under torture are serious violations of human rights that should be qualified as war crimes leading to individual criminal responsibility under the international criminal law and that should not go unpunished.”
He said RR strongly condemned the frequent torture-related deaths in Houthi detention centers as serious violations of human rights that the international community should no longer tolerate.
Van der Kroon called on the international community, and the UN in particular, to take deterrent measures against the perpetrators and to hold them accountable for those who were victims of the weakness of the failing Yemeni state authorities who were not able to defend the safety of their population and guarantee compliance to the laws of war by the warring parties.
“The persistence of the international community’s silence over these grave violations of human rights and breaches of international legislation pertaining to war crimes in Yemen encourages perpetrators to repeat and continue their malpractices. The international community should do anything that is in their power to stop these horrific crimes,” Van der Kroon said.


Citizen journalist among 11 civilians killed in northwest Syria

Updated 21 July 2019
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Citizen journalist among 11 civilians killed in northwest Syria

  • Anas Al-Dyab, a photographer and videographer in his early 20s, was a member of the White Helmets

KHAN SHEIKHUN: A young citizen journalist was among 11 civilians killed in air raids on Syria’s Idlib region Sunday, rescue workers and a monitor said, as he filmed the Russia-backed regime bombardment of the battered enclave.
Anas Al-Dyab, a photographer and videographer in his early 20s, was a member of the White Helmets who also contributed to AFP.
He was killed in Russian air strikes in the town of Khan Sheikhun, rescuers and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The White Helmets, rescue workers in rebel areas named after their distinctive hard hats, said the group “mourns the fall of a hero Anas Al-Dyab, a volunteer and media activist with the Syrian Civil Defense Center in Idlib,” in a Twitter post.
An AFP journalist saw White Helmet members gather to bid farewell to their friend, whose body was laid on a thick red blanket.
The Damascus regime and its Russian ally have stepped up their deadly bombardment of the jihadist-run region of Idlib since late April, despite a September buffer zone deal to protect the region of some three million people from a massive military assault.
Khan Sheikhun, a town in the south of Idlib, has been particularly hit, forcing thousands to flee their homes there, according to the United Nations.
But Dyab “chose to remain with his fellow volunteers in Khan Sheikhun till today,” the White Helmets said.
Raed Al-Saleh, the head of the White Helmets, said Dyab was killed while “trying to show the world what’s going on in Syria.”
“It’s a great loss,” he said.
Dyab, who was single, leaves behind his parents and three brothers, one of whom is held by the Damascus regime, Saleh said.
The Observatory said Dyab was hiding in the cellar of a three-story building with two members of the Jaish Al-Ezza rebel group when the strike happened.
Also on Sunday, regime air strikes killed 10 other civilians including three children in other parts of the bastion, said the Britain-based monitor, which relies on sources inside Syria for its information.
Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham in January took full administrative control of the Idlib region, although other jihadists and rebels are also present.
The Idlib region is supposed to be protected by a September 2018 deal between Russia and rebel backer Turkey, but a buffer zone planned under that accord was never fully implemented.
The White Helmets, who are backed by the West, were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016.
But Moscow and Damascus accuse the group of backing rebels and jihadists.
Syria’s war has killed a total of more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.