AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: The Iran-backed Houthis tortured abducted Yemeni journalists, threw them into solitary confinement, denied them life-saving medical treatment, and banned them from contacting their families for the past two months, families said on Thursday.
Tawfiq Al-Mansouri, Abdul Khaleq Amran, Harith Hamid, and Akram Al-Walidi were among a group of 10 journalists abducted by the Houthis during a raid in the capital Sanaa in 2015.
The journalists were sentenced to death for their alleged collaboration with the Arab coalition and the internationally recognized government.
Six journalists were released during the latest major successful prisoner swap between the Houthis and the Yemeni government last year.
During the past few months, relatives told Arab News the Houthis’ treatment of the remaining journalists has worsened.
Abdullah Al-Mansouri said his brother — journalist Tawfiq Al-Mansouri — has not contacted the family for the past two months and his captors refused to allow the family to give him medicine and money.
“He has not contacted us since before Eid (July 20),” Abdullah Al-Mansouri said.
The families later learned from a former abductee that the Houthis have been brutally mistreated their siblings for the past two months.
“They imprisoned, tortured, and put them in solitary confinement. They took away their clothes and all their belongings and deprived them of everything,” said Al-Mansouri, who added that the family had no clue as to why the Houthis are torturing the journalists.
“The Houthis should be asked why they decided to resume abusing the journalists.”
The six freed journalists previously reported being subjected to the same level of torture by the Houthi captors inside different prisons in Sanaa. They urged the international community to pressure the Iran-backed rebels to release the four journalists who face the death penalty.
Relatives said Abu Shehab Al-Murtada, a brother of Abdulkader Al-Murtada, who is the head of the Houthi prisoner affairs committee, personally tortured the journalists or incited other captors to mistreat them.
Abdullah Al-Mansouri said his brother is suffering from heart problems, diabetes, kidney problems, and recent backbone pains due to torture.
“We bribe the Houthis to allow us to send him an injection every 20 days,” he said. “We do not know if he received them or not.”
The Houthis alleged prosecution and mistreatment of the journalists have sparked local and international outrage as rights groups called upon the militia to release them and stop harassing critics.
Also in Sanaa, relatives of Younis Abdul Sallam, a young Yemeni journalist who was abducted by the Houthis last month, said they have not been allowed to visit him or have been given an explanation as to why he was abducted.
“The Houthis obstinately refuse to allow us to visit him,” a relative told Arab News on condition of anonymity for fear of Houthi reprisal.
Meanwhile, Yemen's Information Minister Muammar Al-Eryani condemned the Houthi abduction of singer Youssef Al-Badji in Sanaa and the militia’s escalating crackdown on music.
“The Iran-backed Houthi militia abducted singer Youssef Al-Badji from his house in Sanaa in a systematic campaign to target art, pursue and attack artists, push dozens of them to flee outside the country, and prevent singing at weddings and public events and classify it as a taboo,” the minister said in a tweet.