SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties said in a statement today, Wednesday, May 20, 2020, that it views with great concern the campaign of arrests to which activists and civilians have been subjected to, recently in the governorate of Marib, which is controlled by the legitimate government.
The Geneva-based organization confirmed that it monitored and documented during the recent period many violations by the security services in Marib governorate, and that these violations affected many journalists, human rights activists and civilians, in addition to a single woman detained in a women's prison, supervised by the security services two months ago, in clear violation of the freedom of opinion and expression guaranteed in all international conventions and norms.
SAM said that it had received information from some of the victims who were previously detained, indicated that there are more than 100 detainees in a prison managed by a person called (Abu Muhammad), who are being subjected to torture.
According to the information, most of the detainees were arrested from the streets, checkpoints or from their workplaces, or during their return from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, some are from Hadhramaut governorate, and those who have come to Marib to obtain passports because of their surname or suspicious that they work with the Houthis militia.
The organization confirmed that it documented testimonies of victims and families, who confirmed that the security and military services in the Marib governorate committed many violations, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, and torture to death, and demanded the security services in Marib to respond to the accusations in this regard, as the organization addressed the services Security in the Marib governorate, with a letter containing the alleged violations, but unfortunately SAM has not received a response yet.
SAM emphasized that the security forces in Marib Governorate are obligated to abide by international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and that detainees must be treated in a human manner that respects their dignity and their right to physical integrity and life, and security forces must adhere to the Yemeni law, which stipulates that if "an individual is arrested on suspicion of having committed a crime, he/she should be referred to investigation and prosecution, as enforced disappearance and torture is strictly prohibited, and the detention of a person without reporting his or her whereabouts is prohibited by international humanitarian law according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 49.
Tawfiq Al-Humeidi, head of SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties, said, "such situation without serious and factual reviews raises a lot of concern in light of the successive complaints by activists and civilians who have been arrested and tortured in the detention centers of the security services in Marib." He added, "The local authorities that represent the legitimate authority must release all prisoners and stop these violations, and shall not turn into fertile ground for the violations, as it represents the state as the minimum existence to implement the law and respect human rights. "
On March 17, the organization documented the arrest and detention of lawyer and human rights activist Salim Allaw by the security forces in the city of Marib, according to the instructions of the city security department, where the security forces confiscated his phone, after his presence, at his will, to the security directorate office in Marib, and then put Allow in a room that includes more than 48 civilian detainees, including six mentally ill, and a 60-year-old man, in addition to the presence of nearly 30 detainees inside a fenced tent next to the detention room, including a child under the age of 11.
According to a complaint Allaw submitted to the Security Department; the detainees were in poor conditions and in unclean places, and that they had been arrested from their shops, homes and roads without justifications.
In February, security forces in Marib governorate arrested a 40-year-old woman from the Al-Wafa Clinic, tampered with the contents of the pharmacy and broke tables according to a complaint filed by one of her sons to the Public Prosecution.
One of her relatives says to SAM: "My cousin has been working in a dispensary in Marib to support her children, and she is currently in a women's prison, supervised by the security services for two months without any clear charges. She has no one to follow her case except her 15-year-old son. Her problem is that she has no support or a tribe could seek her release", however, she was released on bail on 7 April 2020.
The organization reported that the notorious Al-Falaj military checkpoint located outside the city of Marib, arrested Mustafa Hassan Al-Hamzi, 37 years, from Al-Muftah district of Hajjah governorate, at 4 pm on March 13, 2020, during his return to Yemen, after passing to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah rituals, after completing a doctorate in English language from the University of Peshawar, Pakistan, and according to the testimony of a relative of the detainee Dr. Mustafa to SAM Organization “Dr. Mustafa left Yemen before the war and after completing his doctorate in Pakistan he returned to Yemen through the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after he perform the rituals of Umrah, and he entered Yemen from the Al-Wade’a port on March 13, 2020, and upon his arrival at the Al Falaj checkpoint in Marib, one of the soldiers ordered him to leave the bus and told him you are Hamzi, and asked the bus to move and left Dr. Mustafa where he held him for four hours inside a room of the concrete block, then transferred him to the Governorate Security Administration, and after three days he was investigated and the investigator recommended his release on bail, because he is innocent and has nothing to do with anything, but there appears to be pressure to keep him, for the purpose of exchanging with a person imprisoned in Hajjah governorate. Dr. Khaled Sharabi President of the Federation of Yemen Students, Pakistan says, “Dr. Mustafa did not leave the country of study to any other place during a period of 6 years and is considered one of the struggling self-made colleagues, Dr. Mustafa represented Yemen with research papers in several scientific seminars and conferences in the country of study we did not remember that he wrote a single publication glorifying one party at the expense of the other, he was far away from the arguments and differences, all his interest was his studies and the service of his colleagues, as he has nothing to do with politics, and is not member to any party, current, or group. He traveled in February 2020 after he certified his documents from the competent authorities in Pakistan and the Yemeni embassy in Pakistan and he got a letter of appreciation from the embassy, due to the service he offers to students in the country of study, and went to perform Umrah via Saudi airlines to return to Yemen”.
SAM documented the arrest of Saif (a fictitious name) while he was in the Passport Building to apply for a passport, as a security force arrested him on November 7, 2019, in a passport detention facility for two days before transferring him to other illegal, secret detention centers, before his relatives found his whereabouts, on 23 November of the same month, but could not identify who arrested him, as his family reported in a complaint that sent to the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights, and the complaint SAM received stated that Saif was in bad condition due to torture, exhausting investigation for long hours, and sleeping on the floor without allowing his family to provide him with the blanket, noting that he is suffering of many diseases and underwent a number of operations. Saif, born in 1971, a father of four children, told SAM that he was arrested for two months, in the passports prison without any reason, then they transferred him to Political Security prison, were he stayed for four days without investigation, before started interrogating him, on the accusation that he is Houthi, sometimes, and sometimes belongs to PGC, and, that he is working for obtaining passports for Houthis leaders, and they have not been able to prove any charges according to him. He added: “I was interrogated four times; each time it took four hours my eyes were covered and hands were tied to my back. There were more than 100 prisoners in prison, including few children, below 18 years, and they are charged of being Houthis, or because of their Hashemite nicknames.They are taken from roads or while applying for passports, or returnees from country of immigration, and there are more than twenty people who went to receive their salaries and were imprisoned. “I was in cells that were two meters and forty centimeters by two meters, every eight people in one cell, the bedding for every person was one blanket, receiving four pieces of bread a day with beans in morning and evening, lunch is rice and meal, and 5 liters of water per person per day, for drinking, washing, and ablution, there are two bathrooms for the ward without doors. The ward accommodates seventy prisoners, it allowed to go whenever you want, torture is practiced; severe torture for some people to force them to confess; hitting with cables, hanging with chains hands back, in case of illness, it does not matter. "You can go to treatment whenever the officer allows you on condition that you pay the cost of the treatment." (There was a person called Faris who was arrested in the passports building and was delivered to the security and was tortured before entering the cell and was tortured until he fainted because he was from the National Security and after three days, he is summoned and apologizes to him that there was a similarity of a name, and unfortunately the is still in prison for more than ten months, and another person his nickname is al-Radhi went to Seyun to receive his friend and when he was returned he was arrested because his name al-Radhi, i.e. Hashemite, and a third person called Abdul Ghani Jahaf went for Umrah last year, he was driving a bus with twenty women, he was arrested because his name is Jahaf). He added: “The person in charge of the prison is Abu Muhammad, who told us one day that “if one of you was not Houthi, he should be Houthi in order for us to released him in exchange of prisoner with Houthis, otherwise he will be in prison forever”.
The organization said that the activist Obad Muhammad Saeed Al-Sarari was detained on June 11, 2019 from the Paris Towers Hotel in Marib, while he was coming from Dhamar governorate to visit his father who fled from the armed Houthis group, and according to their testimony to the organization, “We were staying in the Paris Towers Hotel in Marib governorate, we came from Dhamar to visit my father after an absence of three years, we were surprised by men from the rescue police who stormed the apartment in which we resided and searched the rooms and beat my father, Al-Sarari added: " what I was subjected to was due to my criticism of the performance of the legitimate government, and I suffered a lot with my father because of these illegal actions, and this is not first time to arrest my father, and he has been kept in detention for a month without justification, and my father continues to suffer from this and is always subject to abuse. "
The organization added that the child Sultan Ali Qaid Al-Dar, 13 years, has been imprisoned for five years in Marib, where he was arrested on April 12, 2016 at 12 at night, by a security force raided his house in the Al-Zira'a neighborhood, according to the testimony of his relatives to SAM: "One night we were asleep, we heard severe knocking on the door of the house by a security force who entered the house after my mother opened the door, and they searched it in an unusual way, and we asked them: What are you looking for? They did not respond to us and after completing the house inspection they took my brother Sultan, they blindfolded him, and threw him on top of one of the military vehicles, and took him away, we tried to inform my father, who was then a commander in Sarwah front, but we could not tell him because there was no network in Sarwah, then we went to visit him in the morning, but they denied us visitation, except after a year has passed since his arrest, and they stated that the reason for the arrest is that he is working on planting explosive devices, but there was no evidence of that, but the charges are based on speculation that he once went to Sanaa, and in fact he went to visit one of our relatives there, and during the five years we were only able to visit him three times, and every time we visit him, we find him exhausted, and he shows signs of beating and his body is very lean".
The organization said that the journalist Muhammad Ali Ibrahim Al-Muqri, 40 years old, from Ibb governorate, who works for the Akhbar Al-Youm newspaper in Marib governorate, is suffering from a bad psychological disorder and health condition since he was arrested by the Political Security forces, in Marib, on the background of his writings criticizing the government.
Al-Muqri's brother told SAM that “the wife of the journalist died after her health condition worsened after she was informed of his arrest, as he was denied visitation, and his family was not even allowed to visit him”. Al-Muqri fled his house in Ibb following Houthis invasion in 2015 because of his media activity against them."
Al-Muqri stayed in Marib working in the Akhbar Al-Youm newspaper until he was arrested, and disappeared, and after searching for him, as his brother says, "It became clear to us that he was detained by the Political Security in Marib, no one was allowed to visit him in the Political Security prison and that a number of those who were imprisoned next to him, after their release, said that he was suffering from a deteriorating health condition and that he told them that he was arrested while he was heading to the Qat market in the compound in Marib without any reason". The family of the journalist demanded that the Journalists Syndicate play its human and rights role and duty to demand his release and condemn his arrest, and to hold the authorities that arrested responsible for what he was exposed to.
On October 23, 2018, SAM revealed the death of Lt. Dhaif Allah Herschel Al-Mutawa, 40, in the Military Intelligence Prison in Marib, in mysterious circumstances. According to the testimony of a relative of Dhaif Allah, "The victim was a lieutenant in the army of the legitimate government, who had previously led a military checkpoint, and he achieved successes in combating smuggling, before being arrested with a group of his colleagues who participated in protests against illegal deductions from their salaries. He added: “Dhaif Allah moved between several prisons, and he was prevented from family visiting and contacting for the three months until his family received a call that he committed suicide, in Safal prison of the Military Intelligence". His family demanded that the case be referred for criminal investigation, and the body to be seen by a forensic to determine the cause of death, and it also called for lawyers in Marib governorate to provide free legal aid to the avengers of blood.
Child Abdullah Al-Mureidi, 10 years, detained in the Central Prison in Marib, by the Marib Security directorate, three months ago, he was seen in the fenced tents with senior detainees, when asked about him by some civilians, it was said that he was arrested while begging in the city of Marib where he has no parents, and when some parents asked to host him in his house until his parents found, the security department said that he might be a Houthi, works with the Houthis who are active in recruiting children, and when his case spread on social media, the security department issued a clarification saying, "The child is being held by the police in Marib until one of his relatives or a known person receives him, officially. And added that “The security forces searched for the child's parents and found no trace, and that the child was brought in from the Dhamar governorate for the purpose of planting improvised explosive devices in Marib, and that he was arrested while he and others were placing explosive devices in several places and Marib Police detained him and do not mind his release, provided that he is received by a specific body or legal person.
However, the statement is contradicting in terms of the charges against the child, he is supposed to be referred to the children's juvenile home and to reveal the investigation outcomes and referred to the specialized juvenile prosecution. The organization has contacted the child’s father after he was handed over to him by the security department in Marib Governorate, but was unable to obtain more details about the reasons for his going to Marib and the reasons for his arrest.
At the end of its statement, the organization called on the local authorities in Marib to stop the violations, especially those occurring at the al-Falaj checkpoint, to release all detainees, especially children, and to open an investigation into allegations of torture of civilians in the Political Security prison.
SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties, Geneva
May 20, 2020