The Merchant Al-Lahabi, a New Victim
The Houthis Confiscate Al-Lahabi's Money and Cause a Woman to Miscarry
  • 24/02/2023
    SAM |

    SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties said that the Houthi group seized the money of Al-Lahabi, a merchant, in the Majz area of Saada Governorate since Thursday dawn, April 29, 2021, when an armed force attacked the Al-Lahabi’s house. This Houthi-affiliated force attacked the inhabitants including women and arrested two of his sons on charges of drug trafficking.

    SAM stated that these practices were part of the war Yemen had been witnessing since September 2014, following the coup and rebellion led by the Houthi group, which calls itself "Ansar Allah", in alliance with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Houthi group perpetrates many grave violations, including looting and confiscating funds and seizing them under various pretexts, most notably supporting the aggression. The climate of impunity for war crimes and violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law also contributed to the persistence of the Houthi group in committing more systematic violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including violations related to private property.

    SAM confirmed that this statement sheds light on the incident of violating the right to protect property, as the Houthi group looted, confiscated and seized the property of Ahmed Yahya al-Lahbi from Saada governorate and arrested his sons. The report is based on incidents, documents and testimonies obtained by the organization's monitors in Saada governorate. The organization also stressed that its statement is based on information, testimonies and eyewitnesses, documented by the organization's monitors in Saada governorate, backed by documents and legal documents that reveal the extent of the Houthi group's disregard for civilian property, its confiscation and the imposition of what it calls the judicial receiver without any legal document. This statement is a continuation of the report issued by SAM in February 2022, entitled "The Receiver", which documents the looting of private property and the simultaneous misleading speech by the judicial receiver and the Ansar Allah group for the period from September 2014 to December 2022.

    SAM indicated that what the Houthi group has done is a violation of international human rights law, which prohibits arbitrary robbery, looting and confiscation of private property in accordance with Article (17) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as it stipulates that everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

    The Arab Charter for Human Rights 2004 stipulated in its Article (25) that the right to private ownership is guaranteed to every citizen and that under no circumstances shall a citizen be arbitrarily or illegally deprived of all or part of his property. International humanitarian law also considers the confiscation of funds a violation of the right to own property. Article 4 (2, g) of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions relating to Victims of Non-International Conflicts said that acts of “pillage directed against persons is prohibited at all times and places.” Rules (50 and 52) of the International Committee of the Red Cross study on customary international humanitarian law prohibited the destruction, seizure, and looting of the opponent's property unless required by imperative military necessity.[1] Under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, " Pillaging a town or place, even when taken by assault," constitutes a war crime in non-international armed conflicts.[2] It is a criminalization consistent with the provisions of Yemeni law, which prohibits looting and burglary of private property in application of the general legal principle that prohibits theft, and it is stipulated in Yemeni legislation and most of the national legislation of countries. It is also punishable under the criminal and military law in Yemen.

    SAM indicated that the summary of the incident of attacking and lotting Al-Lahbi’s money began at five a.m. on Thursday, April 29, 2021. An armed campaign of more than 300 armed men from the security forces of the Houthi group raided the house and farms of the citizen, “Ahmed Yahya Al-Lahbi, 85 years old, in the Majz area of Saada Governorate, without any legal justification, or legitimate reason that allows them to commit this crime. These armed men looted all the contents of the house, including cars, janabi (traditional diggers), money, and women's jewellery, and they beat the women, which led to the miscarriage of one of them.”

    According to an appeal Al-Lahabi made to the Sana'a authorities: I am your brother, the citizen Ahmed Yahya al-Lahbi, from Saada governorate. On Thursday, 17th of Ramadan 1442 AH, corresponding to 4/29/2021, after the Fajr prayer, and with everyone's knowledge, an armed campaign by the security forces raided my house and farms located in the Majz area of Saada governorate, with more than 300 armed personnel. They raided my house and farms without any legal justification, or legitimate reason that allows them to commit this crime. These armed men looted all the contents of the house, including cars, janabi, money, and women's jewelry, and they beat the women, which led to the miscarriage of one of them.

    Additionally, they terrorized the children and imprisoned five of my sons, two of whom are still in prison even though the specialized criminal prosecution issued a decision to release them. However, the decision remains a dead letter, and they haven’t been released yet, nor have the lotted items. My agricultural lands (farmers) and my houses have been seized by security men for a year and nine months. They also illegally sell the products of my farmers including crops of pomegranates, apples, and others and take money for them. To this day, the farms are still under their control.

    According to testimonies included in Al-Lahbi’s appeal to the authorities, which confirmed: “I used to earn about two million Saudi riyals per year from the farms. Now, after about two years, the Ministry of the Interior in Sana’a still receives the sales that are the produce of my farmers’ crop, and it still controls all the houses and their facilities, while my losses during the two years amounted to about 2 million Saudi riyals. As for the amount that was looted, it is about two million dollars,” noting that “there are no orders from the judiciary to confiscate, and there is no receiver, but the Minister of Interior and his aides are the ones who control everything and they are the looters of our rights,” as he put it.

    The organization detailed the extent of the damage suffered by the "the merchant Al-Lahabi" due to the arbitrary practices of the Houthi forces. The armed raid and assault on the house in a brutal and violent manner by more than 300 armed men, including women, led to the miscarriage of one of the pregnant women, the wife of one of Ahmed Yahya al-Lahbi’s sons, at the age of 23, and the killing of her seven-month-old baby.” SAM keeps a photo of the child’s body.

    In addition, the new houses owned by Ahmed Al-Lahbi and built of reinforced concrete, as well as two large farms with an area of ​​two thousand eight hundred square meters, in the Majz area have been seized. He was earning about two million Saudi riyals a year from the farms, and he has now been prevented from benefiting from his property for two years. The Ministry of the Interior, headed by "Abdul Karim al-Houthi," receives sales of the farms, and the forces of the Ministry of Interior control the houses. Since the control of Al-Lahbi's homes, the Houthi group deprived him of four million Saudi riyals for two years. Moreover, they also looted 2-million-dollar things and deprived twenty-three workers who used to work in farms from their only source of income, most of them support large families, and some support two families. This constitutes a serious threat to the stability of families and the expansion of poverty and the humanitarian crisis in society.

    The organization viewed a statement of the Public Prosecution, consisting of four pages, of the seized funds from the Al Lahbi farm. We found out that they include large and small agricultural tillers, diesel drums, central refrigerators, spray and electric motors, solar panels, an Italian humidifier and other things related to the farm.

    SAM confirms that since their control of the capital, Sana'a, in September 2014 until the end of 2017, the Houthis relied on oppression and force in looting and stealing money and property. This period recorded large looting of opponents' property and witnessed the largest departures and displacements of opponents and dissents to escape the group's oppression. Many of the houses have been turned into security and military headquarters, and housing for those belonging to them. Also, many of these houses are rented out.

    The group presented hundreds of Yemeni government leaders, opponents and dissents for investigation, claiming that they were traitors and supporters of the aggression, according to what its media reported.[3] Then the Specialized Criminal Court and public funds soon issued decisions to seize their money and balances. According to one of the lawyers[4], the procedures adopted by the Specialized Criminal Prosecution and Public Funds Prosecution, and after them the Criminal Court / and public funds, lack the most basic rules of integrity and justice, as the group uses the judiciary to pass this lotting only.

    The organization believes that Al-Houthi arbitrarily uses the judiciary to intimidate opponents and provide a cover for illegal looting of opponents' property under multiple pretexts, on top of which is “aiding the aggression”, taking advantage of the state of war. This makes the judiciary ineligible to consider such cases of looting and theft of people's property, as is the case in the Al-Lahbi’s issue, whose two sons were accused of drug trafficking.

    The organization believes that the person who occupies the Minister of Interior in the Houthi government in Sana'a, Abdul Karim Amir al-Din al-Houthi, is primarily responsible for looting and seizing al-Lahbi's property. Abdul Karim al-Houthi was born in Saada Governorate, northern Yemen and is a Houthi member. He supervised the establishment of the “Believing Youth,” and is considered one of the prominent Houthi ideological leaders. He is known to have an extensive network of relations with both Iran and Hezbollah, outside the authority of the group’s leader, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi.

    According to a statement by SAM Organization, the response of the Director of the Office of the Minister of Interior - who is called Al-Dahayani – to those who complain to the Ministry of Interior to release the sons of Al-Lahbi based on the orders they have: Do not interfere in this case.

    At the end of its statement, SAM called on the judicial authorities in Sana'a to release the "Al-Lahbi" family members and their property, which was unlawfully seized, and to work to compensate Al-Lahabi for the harm he suffered during the past two years.

    The organization also called on the Houthi group to follow up the case with the officials in charge of the Ministry of Interior and to bring all those involved in the raid, assault on civilians, killing the infant and unlawfully benefiting from the property of others to a fair trial for the grave and unacceptable violations of both Yemeni and international law.

    The organization calls on the international community team, on top of which is the International Investigation Team on Yemen of the Security Council, to give special priority civilian money and property issues and to provide legal and criminal protection against the perpetrators.



    [2] Refer to Article (8) Paragraph E/5 of the Court Statu

    [3] See the interview of Abd al-Karim al-Khaiwani, deputy interior minister affiliated with the Houthis, in an interview with Al-Masirah TV. He called on the judiciary to implement strict legal measures against all traitors and spies, so that they can be an example. 7-9-2017

    [4] Secret source

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