SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties called on the Maldivian authorities to start a transparent and serious investigation into the causes of the death of the Yemeni detainee, Yasser Yahya Saleh Al-Wadie, 45, after three years of arbitrary detention. Yasser died in the Hulhumale reformatory in the Maldives on August 2, 2020, after being detained by the Maldivian security authorities since the 3rd of March 2017
SAM quoted relatives of the victim as saying that the Immigration Department in the Maldives summoned Yasser by phone in February 2017, and when he went, the Immigration Department asked him to leave the Maldives before the end of the month without any explanation.
On February 6, 2017, Yasser’s lawyers sent a letter to the Immigration Department in the Maldives to postpone the deportation for a month so that he could travel with his wife, who was awaiting the delivery of her baby, and the doctors advised her not to travel, but the immigration officials did not respond to the request and repeated order to leave before the end of the month.
A relative of Yasser said to SAM that: Yasser was detained from March 3, 2017 until his death on August 2, 2020 without an opportunity to defend himself and without trial or any investigation. During his detention his wife was not allowed to visit him, this was used as a method of psychological torture, and he was subjected to multiple systematic torture in the detention facility, adding: “Yasser was a man in good health at the time of arrest, but his health deteriorated during the period of detention and since he went on a hunger strike from May 15, 2020 to fight for his human rights for a fair trial and an opportunity to defend himself, he was admitted. To “IGM” hospital on July 14, 2020 due to his deteriorating health, yet he was returned to the detention facility without being treated in the hospital before he recovered.”
SAM indicated that the Maldivian authorities informed the family of Yasser’s wife that he had stopped the hunger strike, and that he was eating according to the instructions of the responsible doctor as of July 14, 2020, but since he was transferred to prison in this condition and needs treatment in the hospital, it is believed that he sustained a stroke in prison on July 21, 2020, and was transferred to the hospital and was on a ventilator from then until his death on August 2, 2020, and was buried in the capital of the Maldives, on August 5, 2020.
SAM said that Yasser Yahya Saleh, from the village of "Wadie" in Amran governorate, north of Yemen, was a car dealer, according to his son's testimony. He left Yemen at the beginning of the war in 2014, and arrived in the Maldives 2014, and after the closure of Sanaa airport, he could not return to Yemen and worked as a teacher in schools belonging to the Maldivian government; the Muhammadiyah and Arab schools. According to Yemeni friends of Yasser, they told SAM that the Maldivian police had arrested Yasser before King Salman's planned visit to the Maldives, which was later canceled, and after following up with police, they told them that what the police did is a routine procedure. He will be released, but unfortunately, this did not happen, until Yasser died after a hunger strike to protest against being deprived of his legal rights.
A human rights activist close to the Maldives government told SAM about the reasons for the arrest of Yasser by the security authorities in the Maldives, “According to what I was told, officials at the Saudi embassy in the Maldives asked the Maldivian authorities to deport Yasser, and when it did not happen, they arrested him. Accordingly, he added: “so I am sure that the initial request came from officials of the Saudi embassy in the Maldives.”
He adds, "It is unlikely that the government of the Maldives will arrest any foreigner and keep him detained without rights, because we are a tourist country. Moreover, after the Maldivian Democratic Party won the elections, there was a sudden rapprochement with Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, so there is a suspicion that Saudi Arabia is involve, in decisions taken afterwards”
The Maldivian media interacted with the incident of Yasser’s death, while the Maldivian government did not issue a statement explaining the causes and circumstances of the death, which angered a large segment of Maldivians among politicians and human rights activists, as some considered the day of Yasser’s death a dark day in the history of human rights in the Maldives The government of the Maldives was blamed by Ahmed Shahid, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief, regarding the decline in freedoms in the Republic of the Maldives.
On August 2, 2020, the Maldivian newspaper published an article by "Muad Mohamad Zaki," who is known as a strategic expert in international relations and security, an international businessman, an activist in the field of human rights and transparency, a former senior member of the Maldivian Democratic Party and close to two former presidents in the Maldives, under Title: “FEATURED Yemeni Political Prisoner in Maldives Dies Without Fair Trial”, saying that, August 2, 2020 is a dark day for human rights in the Maldives, where a Yemeni political prisoner died who was arrested in the Maldives according to direct requested by the Saudi government. He was arrested, not given an opportunity for a fair and transparent trial, and now died in custody after 3 years of slow and painful death away from his Maldivian wife and child.”
On December 2, 2019, the "the edition" newspaper criticized the rapprochement between the ruling party in the Maldives and the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the murder of Khashoggi, in an article entitled "Popular discontent with the presidents' meeting with" Khashoggi's killer "
On September 21, 2020, SAM Organization sent an e-mail to the Minister of Interior of the Republic of the Maldives regarding the death of Yasser Al-Wadie, the accusations against the Maldivian government, and the reality of the Saudi role, but unfortunately it did not receive any response.
Tawfiq Al-Humeidi, head of SAM organization, says: "The arbitrary detention of Yasser, and denial of his freedom or access to a fair trial to defend himself, is a serious violation of international law, in addition to the denial of health care by the Maldivian authorities who returned him to the prison while he is in a poor health condition, after his hunger strike which requires the Maldivian authorities to be transparent with his family regarding the circumstances of his death, to start a judicial investigation, and hold the perpetrators accountable, and compensate his family.”