Third Yemeni prisoner dies in Houthi custody in month

The Yemeni government and activists have said that a Yemeni government soldier had died inside a Houthi detention facility, marking the third known example of a prisoner dying as a result of torture in less than a month. (AP/File Photo)
The Yemeni government and activists have said that a Yemeni government soldier had died inside a Houthi detention facility, marking the third known example of a prisoner dying as a result of torture in less than a month. (AP/File Photo)
Short Url
Updated 19 November 2023
Follow

Third Yemeni prisoner dies in Houthi custody in month

Third Yemeni prisoner dies in Houthi custody in month
  • Information Minister Muammar Al-Eryani urges ICRC, human rights groups to probe militia’s crimes of murdering and torturing captives

AL-MUKALLA: The Yemeni government and activists have said that a Yemeni government soldier had died inside a Houthi detention facility, marking the third known example of a prisoner dying as a result of torture in less than a month. 

Yemen’s internationally recognized government said the Houthis executed one of its incarcerated troops, while Yemeni activists raised worry over endemic severe abuse within Houthi detention facilities.

Yemen’s Information Minister Muammar Al-Eryani said on Saturday that the Houthis hanged 21-year-old Yemeni government soldier Mohammed Ahmed Wahban in Sanaa’s Military Prison three years after capturing him while fighting alongside Yemeni government forces on the Mas frontline in Marib’s central province of Marib.

A Houthi court sentenced Wahban, from the province of Amran, to death by firing squad in August 2022, accusing him of collaborating with the Yemeni army and the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen, the minister said, adding that the soldier, like hundreds of Yemenis held by the Houthis, was subjected to “brutal” psychological and physical torture and was denied medication.

The Yemeni soldier had gone on a hunger strike after being mistreated by the Houthis.

“We urge the International Committee of the Red Cross and international and local human rights groups to launch an open inquiry into the crimes of murdering and torturing captives, abductees, and individuals forcefully imprisoned in Houthi militia detention camps,” Al-Eryani said on social media platform X.

Yemeni activists and relatives said the Houthis phoned his family last week to notify them that Wahban committed suicide by hanging himself and asked them to get his remains from a military hospital in Sanaa. 

Saleh Abdullah Wahban, a member of the soldier’s clan, said his mother sobbed every time she visited him in jail after discovering that the Houthis would kill him, but the family mistook this for intimidation by the militia.

“His mother would contact me every time she paid him a visit, sobbing and informing me that he had been sentenced to death. We considered this to be an instance of psychological torment,” Saleh said on his Facebook page.

Wahban’s death comes only days after Yemeni activists reported the death of Ezzedine Al-Habji Al-Humaigani, 28, in a Houthi detention camp in Sanaa, a year after the Houthis kidnapped him from his native region of Al-Bayda.

Late last month, the international charity Save the Children suspended its operations in northern Yemen to put pressure on the Houthis to explain the death of one of its employees in the militia’s detention facility in Sanaa. This incident drew condemnation from local and international rights groups, the EU, and the UK.

Rights organizations and activists have backed the Yemeni government’s request for investigations into the deaths of detainees held by the Houthis, as well as for foreign mediators, such as UN Yemen Envoy Hans Grundberg, to put pressure on the Houthis to cease torturing captives.

Zafaran Zaid, a Yemeni human rights activist and lawyer sentenced to death in absentia by a Houthi-run court in 2021, told Arab News on Sunday that the deaths of Yemeni soldiers and other prisoners in Houthi detention facilities are indicators of widespread torture inside Houthi-controlled detention facilities, noting that over 370 teachers, doctors, tribal leaders, soldiers, and other abductees died in Houthi custody due to torture.

“The Houthis have violated all conventions, charters, treaties, laws, and morality; they are killing Yemenis with impunity,” she said. 


Jordan king, queen head to Riyadh

Jordan king, queen head to Riyadh
Updated 38 min 34 sec ago
Follow

Jordan king, queen head to Riyadh

Jordan king, queen head to Riyadh
  • Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, personal envoy and special adviser to the king, was sworn in as regent

AMMAN: Jordan’s King Abdullah and Queen Rania on Thursday traveled to Riyadh where they will pass on their condolences over the passing of Jordanian Princess Rajwa Al-Hussein’s father and Saudi businessman Khalid bin Musaed bin Saif bin Abdulaziz Al-Saif.

Following approval from Cabinet members, Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, personal envoy and special adviser to the king, was authorized to take on the responsibilities of King Abdullah while he is out of the country.


No ‘plan B’ once Palestinian aid agency funds end in March, its Lebanon head says

No ‘plan B’ once Palestinian aid agency funds end in March, its Lebanon head says
Updated 22 February 2024
Follow

No ‘plan B’ once Palestinian aid agency funds end in March, its Lebanon head says

No ‘plan B’ once Palestinian aid agency funds end in March, its Lebanon head says
  • Lebanon chief Dorothee Klaus said: “We hope that as many donors as possible indicate to the agency that they are reconsidering the funding freeze”
  • “This will be the first indicator to the community that UNRWA is cash-strapped”

BEIRUT: The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees has no “plan B” past March should donor countries that withheld funding following Israeli allegations uphold their suspensions, the head of its Lebanon office said on Thursday.
Israel accused 12 of UNRWA’s 13,000 employees in the Gaza Strip of taking part in the Hamas-led assault on Israel last year. The claims came after years of Israeli calls for the agency to be disbanded, and as Gazans face widespread hunger and only a trickle of aid into the bombarded strip.
Sixteen countries suspended funding pending an investigation by the UN’s oversight office that Lebanon chief Dorothee Klaus said would be ready in a few weeks.
“We hope that as many donors as possible indicate to the agency that they are reconsidering the funding freeze, and that funding will be restored to the agency, hopefully in such a way that we don’t have a cash flow issue, and services continue uninterrupted,” she said.
“We do not have a plan B.”
Already, her office may not be able to finance its quarterly cash distribution to 65 percent of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
“This will be the first indicator to the community that UNRWA is cash-strapped, and this would be the first service that we will not be able to provide in quarter one,” Klaus said.
While UNRWA has faced cash crunches before, the collective suspension has prompted an unprecedented crisis and it would be wrong to think other agencies could fill the gap, she said.
In Lebanon, UNRWA manages 12 camps for refugees, providing services from health care and schooling to garbage collection. If funding dries up, within a couple of days there would be trash filling camp streets, Klaus said.
Israel’s allegations have also prompted a separate review process by UNRWA that she said would examine safeguards protecting its neutrality and independence.
Asked if that would involve an examination of possible affiliations to armed groups of UNRWA staff in Lebanon’s camps, Klaus said she expected her branch would be consulted.


Houthi agency says Israeli, US, British ships banned from Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea

Houthi agency says Israeli, US, British ships banned from Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea
Updated 22 February 2024
Follow

Houthi agency says Israeli, US, British ships banned from Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea

Houthi agency says Israeli, US, British ships banned from Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea
Ships that are wholly or partially owned by Israeli individuals or entities and Israel-flagged vessels are banned from the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea, said statements from an agency controlled by Yemen’s Houthi group seen by Reuters on Thursday.
The statements, sent to shipping insurers and firms from the Houthi’s Humanitarian Operations Coordination Center, also said ships owned by US or British individuals or entities, or sailing under their flags, are also banned.

Day 4 at ICJ hearing: Jordan says Israeli occupation ‘unlawful, inhumane and must end’

Day 4 at ICJ hearing: Jordan says Israeli occupation ‘unlawful, inhumane and must end’
Updated 22 February 2024
Follow

Day 4 at ICJ hearing: Jordan says Israeli occupation ‘unlawful, inhumane and must end’

Day 4 at ICJ hearing: Jordan says Israeli occupation ‘unlawful, inhumane and must end’
  • ‘Israel is violating the rights of Muslims and Christians to the freedom of worship’

The International Court of Justice, the UN’s top court, on Thursday continued its hearing from dozens of states and three international organizations who question the legality of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Representatives from countries including China, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon and Libya were expected to deliver their positions during the third day of the hearing at the ICJ, also known as the World Court.

Speakers from the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have already demanded Israel end its occupation of the Palestinian territories, with the Kingdom’s envoy to the Netherlands Ziad Al-Atiyah stating Israel’s continued actions were legally indefensible.

Ahmad Ziadat, Minister of Justice of Jordan, center, and Ayman Safadi, right, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jordan, at the International Court of Justice hearing in The Hague. (ANP/AFP)

Ayman Safadi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jordan, said that “Israel is violating the rights of Muslims and Christians to the freedom of worship by banning Muslims from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque and not protecting priests from humiliation and abuse from Israeli extremists.”

Safadi said that the “occupation was unlawful, inhumane and it must end.”

“Israel has been systematically consolidating the occupation, denying the Palestinians’ rights to self-determination.”

Safadi closed his remarks, saying “Palestinians are being killed in the hundreds every day in Gaza and in the West Bank because Israel is not being held accountable for its war crimes and violation of international law… rule that the Israel occupation, the source of all evil, must end.”

Hayder Shiya Al-Barrak, center, ambassador and head of the legal department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iraq. (ANP/AFP)

Hayder Shiya Al-Barrak, ambassador and head of the legal department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iraq, called on the ICJ to stop the “systematic killing machine” against the Palestinian people and the end of “mass murder” and “genocide.”

Al-Barrak talked of Israel’s “barbaric acts”, including “air strikes and rocket attacks targeting civilians.”

“These acts constitute war crimes executed with a criminal intent” and are serious violations of the laws of war, the Iraqi representative said, and added that Israel “must be held accountable”.

Reza Najafi, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs. (ANP/AFP)

The Iranian representative said the Israeli occupation force continuously violated Palestinians right to self-determination.

“The establishment of the Israeli regime was done through a violent process which involved the forcible displacement of native Palestinian people to create a majority Jewish colony in line with the Zionist movement,” Reza Najafi, Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs said.

Najafi listed a series of supposed ongoing violations by the Israeli occupying regime: prolonged occupation; alteration of the demographic composition in the occupied territories; alteration of the character and the status of the Holy City; discriminatory measures and violations of the rights of Palestinian people to permanent sovereignty over their natural resources.

Najafi added that “the expansion of settlements, segregated roads and barriers as well as checkpoints has created a system of apartheid which is isolating Palestinian communities.”In his closing remarks, Najafi said “the inaction or insufficient action of the Security Council” was one of the “main causes of prolonged occupation of the Palestinians,” and it was “paralysed due to the stalemate” caused by a “certain permanent member.”

Ma Xinmin, a foreign ministry legal adviser, meanwhile said Beijing “has consistently supported the just cause of the Palestinian people in restoring their legitimate right”.

“In pursuit of the right to self-determination”, he mentioned, the Palestinian people’s use of force to “resist foreign oppression” and complete the establishment of an independent state is an “inalienable right”.


Houthis order shipping ban, missiles set ship aflame off Yemen

Houthis order shipping ban, missiles set ship aflame off Yemen
Updated 22 February 2024
Follow

Houthis order shipping ban, missiles set ship aflame off Yemen

Houthis order shipping ban, missiles set ship aflame off Yemen

DUBAI: Yemen’s Houthis on Thursday sent shippers and insurers formal notice of what they termed a ban on vessels linked to Israel, the US and Britain from sailing in surrounding seas, seeking to reinforce their military campaign in support of Palestinians.

The move to prohibit such ships from the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Arabian sea came as British maritime agencies reported a missile attack set ablaze a cargo vessel off the southern coast of Yemen.

Iran-aligned Houthi militants in Yemen have launched repeated drone and missile strikes in the Red Sea, Bab Al-Mandab Strait and Gulf of Aden since November in support of Palestinians, as the Israel-Hamas war continues and the Gaza death toll reaches almost 30,000.

The Houthi strikes have disrupted a route accounting for about 12 percent of global maritime traffic and forcing firms to take a longer, more expensive route around Africa.

The Houthis’ communication, the first to the shipping industry outlining a formalized ban, came in the form of two notices from the Houthis’ newly-dubbed Humanitarian Operations Coordination Center sent to shipping insurers and firms.

Ships that are wholly or partially owned by Israeli individuals or entities and Israel-flagged vessels, or are owned by US or British individuals or entities, or sailing under their flags, are banned from the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea, Thursday’s notices said.

“The Humanitarian Operations Center was established in Sanaa to coordinate the safe and peaceful passage of ships and vessels that have no connection to Israel,” a senior Houthi official told Reuters on Thursday.

The attacks have already sent shipping insurance premiums rocketing, and the Houthi agency’s newly-formalized remit could further affect prices.

Also on Thursday, US-led coalition forces were responding to a burning ship after two missiles struck it some 70 nautical miles southeast of Aden, Yemen, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency said.

The UK-owned, Palau-flagged ship was en route to Egypt from Thailand, according to maritime security firm Ambrey and ship tracking data.

Islander is the name of the vessel, two shipping sources said.

In January, US and British forces began retaliatory strikes on Houthi facilities, though the group’s attacks show little sign of abating.

“If anything, Houthis attacks on cargo ships are intensifying in the Red Sea and around the Gulf of Aden,” Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM wrote in a note on Tuesday.

No ships have been sunk nor crew killed, however there are concerns about the fate of the Rubymar cargo vessel which was struck on Feb 18.

The Houthis said the Rubymar was at risk of sinking but a US defense official said as of Thursday the ship remained afloat