Geneva – “SAM” Organization for Rights and Liberties said that on December 28, 2022, the Houthi group arrested four social media activists: Ahmed Hajar, 43 years old, Mustafa Al-Momari, 29 years old, Hammoud Al-Mesbahi, 32 years old, and Ahmed Allao, 32 years old after publishing videos on YouTube about the negative impression of citizens and their complaints about the living conditions, as well as the extortion practices they are subjected to by the Houthi group.
The organization said, "The criminal prosecution run by the Houthi group - according to the indictment - accused the four activists of the following:
The organization said that the charges against the activists, on which the Criminal Prosecution relied to transfer them to the criminal trial, are the texts of Articles (16, 21, 22, 23, 24, 135, 136, and 289) of the Republican Decree Law No. 12 of 1994 regarding crimes and penalties. These texts are the same on the basis of which the four journalists detained by the Houthi group were tried and a death sentence was issued against them, which raises the organization’s deep fear and concern about the fate of the four activists. SAM warned that those activists will suffer the same fate as the four journalists.
The organization pointed out that the lawyers of the four activists did not meet with them and were not fully informed of the merits of the case, which shows the serious violation of the Houthi group and its judicial apparatus towards its opponents and activists. It also indicated that this matter violates the principle of a fair trial and the right of litigants to view papers and documents and to present the necessary legal defenses.
The organization expressed its fear that the trial would be accompanied by a campaign of intimidation and incitement carried out by Houthi institutions and active figures in the group that might prepare public opinion to accept the sentences the Houthi group are preparing against the activists. This reminds us of the media campaign that accompanied the trial of journalists and political activists - which led to death sentences in 2017- titled Secrets of Darkness.
SAM monitored part of this campaign, where the leader of the group, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, stated in a televised speech that inciting public opinion is an unsuccessful step done by the enemy and serves the enemy directly and indirectly.” He added, “this incitement does not have a positive solution, but its negativity is greater”, and he called it “chaotic, rotten, hateful speech that comes from someone who is not keen on people’s interest, and his words are hateful and aim to increase people’s suffering” https://youtu.be/MLvmnFzdosE. In a tweet by the leader Jahaf on his Twitter page on January 11, 2023, he said, “I did not wish to see this picture, nor do I like to talk about it. But because the aggression exploits them to achieve its goals and agendas by stirring up troubles and unrest and accusing people of falsehood to achieve even an imaginary victory.. They must be deterred and prosecuted, and we hope that this will be a lesson for the rest of hypocrites of the shameful and disgraceful stock of Afash.
Muhammad al-Emad, the owner of the al-Hawyah Channel, which is close to the outhi, wrote on December 30, 2022, “Do you know that some of the YouTubers were a link in the occupation coalition and corruption of the Afash mercenaries, God bears witness. For your information, I have proof of some actions that indicate their quest. That is why you should not be surprised at some of them who attack corruption, and I swear to God that they are one part of the circles of corruption, and we warned of them, but they said we were envious.” The Houthi leader repeated on his Twitter account on January 11, 2023, “The situation will be strict and the punishment severe for anyone who dares to disturb the security and tranquility of this country.”
SAM confirms that there is a wide range of international agreements that guarantee personal freedom and prohibit any practice that would prejudice or restrict the freedom of individuals, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirmed in Article (5) thereof that it, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Article (10) of the International Covenant on Civil Rights and Politics states: “All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.”
In addition, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 20, 2006, stipulates that the widespread or systematic practice of enforced disappearance constitutes a crime against humanity.
The organization concluded its statement by calling on international bodies, led by the United Nations and its delegates in Yemen, to intervene immediately and put pressure on the Houthi group to stop the trial of the four activists and work for their release. It also stressed that the international community bears full responsibility for the lives of those activists because of their repeated and unjustified silence towards the Houthi group's violations against its opponents.