Political detainees tortured in secret prisons
The abducted citizens have often been tortured, using heinous methods and with predictably gruesome results.
When the families of the victims asked for assistance in finding their loved ones, the police either didn’t know anything about the detainees, or simply refused to help.
Human rights organizations have played a major role in following up with these cases until many of them have been released. However, the fate of other victims is still unknown.
Abdul-Malik Rajeh, one of the kidnapped detainees who spent 43 days in an intelligence prison in Sana'a, told the Yemen Times that, “The accusations that I was charged with after I was forcibly taken to prison were that I was a leader of a terrorist cell.” After a lengthy investigation, authorities determined that the accusation was false and Rajeh was released from custody.
“While I was imprisoned, I was subjected to severe beatings and torture methods such as burning. Many of the wounds still haven’t healed. They range from 4-18 centimeters long,” he said.
According to Rajeh, he was even threatened with rape before being moved to a solitary cell.
Rajeh had started work as a photographer for Suhail Channel, which is owned by the well-known opposition leader, Hamid Al-Ahmar, before being illegally arrested and taken to prison by intelligence officers.
Rajeh was working in Arahb, an area about 40 km north of the capitol, when he was forcibly abducted by intelligence agents and taken to a secret prison in Sana’a. He had been sent to the area to photograph the destruction inflicted by the government’s bombardment of tribesmen supporting the revolution.
“Initially no one was allowed to visit me in prison, but after my health sharply deteriorated they allowed some family members to see me and bring me medicine,” Rajeh said.
Marwan Al-Dawsari, the Executive Director of the Organization for Equality, (one of the NGOs in Yemen working on such cases) told the Yemen Times, “The number of detainees since the beginning of the revolution had sharply increased compared to previous years. The number of political detainees was estimated to be around 3,000.”
“Our organization followed approximately 2,000 such cases, but only 900 of these prisoners were released in 2011. We still closely follow their cases through memos sent to the public prosecutor, Military Intelligence, Political Security, and National Security, as well as to other agencies we deem responsible for kidnapping opposition or human rights activists,” he said.
Al-Dawsari pointed out that there is often no direct charge or accusation against most of the prisoners and that they were abducted for either their support for the revolution or for expressing opinions contrary to state policy.
He added that many of the kidnapped activists or revolutionary youths are still being held in these secret prisons. According to him, the prisoners are treated very badly, with some instances of prisoners being held in water tanks.
“So far, according to the statistics we have, nothing is known about 20 kidnapped activists, while an additional 70 have yet to be released. Our reports indicate that some have been held for over 18 months without any charges. This is a crime in itself. Those responsible for holding them should be punished to the full extent of the law,” Al-Dawsari stated.
Al-Dawsari went on to say, “secret abductions and mistreatment, even by intelligence agencies, is a violation of the law and are crimes that cannot be overlooked regardless of who committed them or what their positions or ranks are. They must be punished even if they try to obtain immunity from prosecution.”
“Humans are innocent by nature, and their freedoms should not be restricted or violated except through the law. Kidnapping people for political motivations goes against our laws, Islamic Sharia, international conventions, and human rights laws and treaties ratified by Yemen,” Al-Dawsari added.