Yemen: Activists and journalists among those arrested at peaceful gathering in Mukalla

19.02.21

On 18 February 2021, following direct orders issued by Governor Faraj Al-Bahssni, the security forces in Hadramaut Governorate in Yemen arrested at least 17 citizens, including two women, who participated in a peaceful gathering. The gathering has been organised every Thursday in front of the governorate’s headquarters in Mukalla City for the past three months to demand improvement of living conditions and respect for public freedoms. Reliable local reports confirmed to the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) that the gathering was dispersed by the use of force by members of security forces. The Hadramout Governorate is under the control of the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. 

Among the detainees were civil society activists Dr. Khalid Ali Baali, Ali Bin Mohammed Ali Jaber, Hani Al-Moamen, Moaz Bin Ali Jaber, Abdullah Bin Ali Jaber and Saleh Bin Ali Jaber. Journalists who were arrested include civil society activist and journalist Moataz Al-Naqib, correspondent of the Yemen Shabab satellite channel, civil society activist and journalist Zakaria Mohammed, correspondent of Al-Mahriah satellite channel, journalist and civil society activist Hala Fouad Badawi, and journalist and civil society activist Yousra Al-Battati. In addition, other detainees are the president of the Peaceful Public Stand and Member of the Local Municipal Council of Mukalla City Salah Bin Hamel, President of the Supreme Council for the Revolutionary Movement Fouad Rashid, Sheikh Ali Bafqas, one of the sheikhs of the Noah tribe, Sheikh Ahmed Bapeter Al Morshedy, one of the sheikhs of the Siban tribe, political activist Mohammed Ahmad Balatif, and Judge Ahmed Bou Nasser.

Two journalists, Hala Fouad Badawi and Yousra Al-Battati, and Judge Ahmed Bou Nasser were released on the evening of the same day, while two other journalists, Moataz Al-Naqib and Zakaria Mohammed, were released the following day.

As for the rest of the detainees, reports confirmed that they were initially held in the City Security Centre, but were later transferred to the Central Prison in Mukalla. These arrests were carried out arbitrarily and without any judicial orders or orders from the Public Prosecution Office.

Reliable local sources confirmed to GCHR that the security authorities stipulated that all the remaining detainees must sign pledges not to hold protest gatherings in exchange for their release, which was rejected by everyone.

GCHR calls on the security authorities in the governorate of Hadramout to immediately release all detained peaceful protesters, and to respect the general freedoms of citizens, including freedom of expression of opinion and freedom of peaceful assembly.

The various authorities across Yemen must ensure that human rights defenders, including journalists, bloggers and internet activists, are able to carry out their legitimate work and express themselves freely without fear of retaliation and in a manner free from all restrictions, including judicial harassment.