Human Rights Groups Demand Release of Yemeni Activist Detained by Houthis

Henrietta Strickland
August 19, 2017

"Yemen more than ever needs activists like Hisham al-Omeisy to bring attention to the devastation that war, starvation and disease have wrought on the country and its people", HRW's Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson said.

Amnesty International also made a similar appeal for al-Omeisy's release. Amnesty's Samah Hadid called Omeisy "a prisoner of conscience, whose only "crime" is peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression".

Authorities from all sides across Yemen should immediately free those wrongfully held, end detention without access to lawyers or family members, and appropriately prosecute officials responsible for mistreatment, Human Rights Watch said.

"Yemen more than ever needs activists like Hisham al-Omeisy to bring attention to the devastation that war, famine, and disease have wrought on the country and its people", said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

Speaking anonymously due to restrictions on talking to media, the source told Anadolu Agency that the troops would be used to secure several vital facilities, including Aden's airport, seaport and the Maashiq Presidential Palace.

"The last time I checked in with him to see he was okay was at 2.32pm on 14 August. He never received my message", she said.

"My greatest concern now is for his welfare".

What makes Omeisy's detention surprising is that he was mostly critical of the Saudi-led coalition backing the government of President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is trying to oust the rebels who control Sanaa and much of the north.

Yemen, the Middle East's poorest country, has been besieged since March 2015 after the Houthis overthrow of the Hadi government. "But he remained determined to give a voice to all Yemenis - on all sides of the conflict". In 2016, the rights group documented two deaths in custody and 11 cases of alleged torture or ill-treatment.

It said his arrest was part of an ongoing crackdown targeting activists, journalists, lawyers, and minorities.

In Yemen's under-covered conflict, Hisham al-Omeisy was one of its most visible documenters.

While the Sanaa-based authorities may take appropriate measures to address security concerns related to Yemen's armed conflict, global human rights and humanitarian law protects the right not to be arbitrarily detained, tortured or ill-treated, or forcibly disappeared.

He went on to note that a military force affiliated with the Yemeni government - now conducting military exercises in Saudi Arabia - was expected to soon arrive in Aden to help the Saudi force carry out its task.

Yemen is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees the rights to freedom of association and expression.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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