The search for lost justice in Aden: the story of a family suffering persecution and injustice
  • 01/05/2023
    SAM |

    SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties said that the family of "Saleha Abdullah Yahya" in Aden, southern Yemen, is living a terrifying nightmare that does not seem to end due to the violations the family was subjected to by forces affiliated with the Southern Transitional Council in Aden.

    This family, consisting of a mother and her children, was subjected to a series of the most heinous violations, starting with the arbitrary confiscation of their land, ending with the kidnapping tof two of her children and the killing of another, not to mention the physical and mental harm her grandchildren suffered.

    Tawfiq Al-Hamidi, head of the SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties, said, “Despite the presence of the main leadership council in Aden, the severity of the violations by the forces of the Southern Transitional Council ruling Aden did not stop. The incidents at hand here and documents such as video footages and audio recordings reveal that these forces are still perpetrating grave violations, which require the intervention of the Presidential Leadership Council and the judicial authorities to stop them, and refer the perpetrators to the judiciary to hold them accountable before the law.”

    Saleha said in her interview with SAM, “The story began on August 28, 2020 in Mualla, behind the office of the governor of Aden Governorate, where the "Abu Khattab" battalion led by Hussein Wijdan and Munif Jamal Awad of the Storm Brigade, whose head was Awsan al-Anshali, raided our house. The criminals destroyed our house, displaced our entire family, and stole our possessions and savings. We had a relatively quiet life in our house, which I built for my children.”

    SAM reviewed photos and videos showing the house, which consists of five rooms. The furniture was looted, and there were signs of fire from the inside, cracks in the walls, and the destruction of surfaces in some rooms, whereas its internal doors and windows are removed. The organization also listened to recordings and WhatsApp conversations that included immoral language and threats to arrest women and children.

    "Saleha" continues her conversation with SAM while crying, “My sons did nothing wrong except that they refused to give up our land and our house to the criminals. As a result, they killed my son Hasan (37 years old) on November 24, 2021 in Sheikh Othman - Al-Silah because he refused to give up the land. Moreover, they detained and kidnapped my son Muhammad in front of his house on April 1, 2022, after they followed him to his grandfather’s house in Al-Mamdara and took him by force into his house in Al-Mualla in order to force him renounce his Hasan’s right, as well as giving up the house and the land. Four days later, they returned and arrested him by force in front of the house on April 1, 2022. We were not allowed to visit him, and some people said that they had killed him and thrown his body. We do not know if our son is alive or dead. While they fabricated a murder charge against my son Ahmed, who has three children, imprisoned him and subjected him to severe torture.

    "Saleha" has video footages, which were viewed by SAM, showing the moment the "STC" forces arrested her son, Muhammad. She also has recordings of phone calls with the defendants, in which they threatened to kill the family "one by one." SAM also viewed medical reports proving that Saleha's son, Hasan, was shot at close range, resulting in his death

    "Saleha" complains that the responsible authorities don't pay attention to her case and are not interested in arresting those accused of killing her son Hasan, despite the issuance of a decision to arrest them and prevent them from traveling more than a year ago. The defendants roam freely and live their lives normally, she says.

    Hasan's sister says while crying heartily, "We no longer believe there is justice in this country. Repression and injustice caused the death of my dear brother, and no one took action. The case of my deceased brother has been in the prosecution of Sheikh Othman for more than a year, and a decision was issued to arrest those who killed my brother and prevent them from traveling, but no one cares or implements this decision. The killers roam the streets and live their lives as if nothing happened, while we suffer from psychological and material pain."

    Saleha adds that three of her grandchildren were affected psychologically and physically as a result of what happened, including, "Tayseer Ahmed” (12 years old) suffered from diabetes, “Ayman Ahmed” (5 years old) who became mute due to the severity of the shock, and “Ishraq Ahmed” (two and a half years old) whose eardrum exploded due to the severity of the gunfire, during the arrest of her uncle Muhammad.

    Her daughter adds: "My brothers were the breadwinners of the family, and after what happened, our family disintegrated and our source of livelihood was lost. My brother's orphaned children cry every night for their father. Their mother tries to comfort them while she herself is heartbroken. Who will have mercy on us and do us justice in this country? When will we find the desired justice?”

    In 2021, the SAM organization monitored more than one violation committed by forces affiliated with the Southern Transitional Council against civilians, the majority of whom are from the Muhamasheen (marginalized) group. These forces deliberately burned the homes of dozens of them in the Jabal Al-Furs area of ​​Aden Governorate. According to human rights sources, forces affiliated with the Southern Transitional Council burned more than 180 homes and abandoned their owners, and despite the affected families protesting this measure and taking to the streets, they did not find any response.

    Muhammad says, “We are a family of four. My father died when I was 17 years old. He had built a house for us in 2012 in Jabal Al-Furs. However, the military came and burned our homes. They told us that we had an hour to leave our house or they would expel us by force. Then they burned all the houses in that area. We camped with our families and stayed in the school of Talat. Our families were displaced and we do not know where to go.

    It seems that the armed militias in Aden operate with almost complete impunity and the absence of legal and judicial oversight of any kind. The multiple incidents that were monitored during the previous years confirm that these authorities have become disinterested in any judicial oversight or the issuance of any human rights or media statements. Unfortunately, these authorities have become a source of suspicion, doubt and fear, and their statements have become a source of doubt and suspicion. Since the arrest of journalist Ahmed Maher on ... and showing him in an inhumane manner on a recorded tape, and its refusal to bring him to trial for more than 8 sessions, it became clear to everyone that these militias were the parties in control of the matter in Aden. Therefore, everyone must stop them and bring back security institutions that are subject to the authority of the law, and hold the leadership of these militias accountable for all the crimes they have committed.

    Unfortunately, the conflict in Yemen has affected law enforcement authorities. Judicial institutions have become fragile and unable to carry out their duty to achieve justice, enforce judicial rulings, and deter persons and institutions that deliberately disrupt the law and violate its provisions, especially those related to human rights, such as arrest, torture, enforced disappearance, and extrajudicial killings, more particularly in points spread throughout large areas.

    The basic articles of the Yemeni constitution prohibit arbitrary arrest and extrajudicial execution, as well as torture, intimidation, coercion, or arbitrary detention without the supervision of the Public Prosecution. They also protect the sanctity of homes and private property, which may not be confiscated except in accordance with special legal and judicial procedures. The thing was not adhered to by the forces of Awsan Al-Anshali, who is responsible for the extrajudicial killing and burning of the property of the Saleha Abdullah’s family.

    These forces also clearly violate international conventions, especially protocols related to civil and political rights in respect of the right to life, of which Yemen is a part, and which prohibit arbitrary detention or enforced disappearance and the need to respect human dignity.

    This afflicted family hopes to obtain the long-awaited justice, and for the authorities to prosecute the perpetrators and exact justice for the killers of their son and hopes for the return of their two sons, who were abducted and unjustly detained. The family also hopes to regain the stability that was taken away from its members due to the incidents of repression they were subjected to.

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