AL-MUKALLA: The Iran-backed Houthis have continued to deny dozens of sick abductees life-saving medical treatment and winter clothes, putting their lives at risk of death, relatives said on Monday.
The Abductees Mothers’ Association, an umbrella organization for thousands of relatives of abductees in Yemen, staged a rare sit-in outside the International Committee of the Red Cross’ office in the Houthi-held Sanaa to draw attention to 50 incarcerated relatives in the Political Security Prison in Sanaa, where they are enduring torture and abuse.
The organization said that prisoners are experiencing deteriorating health conditions and their captors are refusing to offer them necessary medications. It added that the captors had prevented relatives from bringing winter clothes despite knowing that the abductees suffer from chronic illnesses such as strokes, kidney failure, diabetes and spondylosis.
The women who took part in the sit-in carried several posters, demanding UN mediators to step in to help secure release of their sick relatives, accusing the rebels of putting the lives of prisoners at risk.
“We call on the UN envoy to put pressure on the Houthi group to urgently release the sick abductees from the political security prison,” one poster read.
Recalling horror inside Houthi detentions, five Yemeni journalists who were released from Houthi prisons during the successful prisoner swap in October said they were tortured, beaten and abused and were denied vital medications or were given the wrong drugs by their captors.
Early this month, Amnesty International accused the Houthis of putting the life of Tawfiq Al-Mansouri, a Yemeni journalist who was sentenced to death in April, at risk by refusing to give him medical treatment and subjecting him to “appalling detention conditions.”
Meanwhile, Yemen’s Defense Ministry accused several Houthi leaders of masterminding systematic torture and cruelties against abductees inside several known and secret prisons in Sanaa.
Based on interviews with former abductees, the ministry said on Sunday that Abdul Kader Al-Murtada, head of the Houthi prisoner affairs committee, and his deputy in the same committee, Murad Qassim Hanen, spearheaded torture sessions alongside Yahyia Mohammed Hamadi Sarae, head of political security prison, and his deputy Hayel Juma’n. It is alleged that prisoners had been beaten, tortured and verbally abused by Houthi operatives.
The former abductees said that the Houthis deprived them of sleep, water and food.
Since taking power by forces in late 2014, the Houthis have abducted hundreds of activists, journalists, politicians and military officers who opposed their rule. Opposition figures who managed to flee Houthi repression either sought shelter inside government-controlled areas or went into exile.
The Yemeni government and the Houthis swapped hundreds of prisoners last month, a major trust-building measure brokered by the UN aimed at paving the way for peace talks to end the war.
The head of the Yemeni government delegation in prisoner swap talks, Hadi Al-Haej, told Arab News that prisoner swap talks have reached a deadlock as both sides failed to agree on a date for swapping more prisoners, noting that he is “concerned” over media reports about deteriorating health conditions of the abductees.