Yemen: Civil society activists and journalists face human rights violations including killing

24.08.21

Civil society activists and journalists in Yemen continue to face human rights violations, including being murdered or sentenced to death by the Houthis, the de facto government in the capital Sana'a, and President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his followers. While welcoming the news that the killer of an academic has been arrested, and that eight activists sentenced to death have been freed, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) calls on the authorities to respect freedom of expression and assembly.

On 05 August 2021, the security media of the Houthi Ministry of Interior published a video of the man accused of killing architect Dr. Mohammed Ali Naim, an academic at Sana'a University and an Internet activist. In the video, a person named Fuad Hussein Salih admitted that he carried out the assassination late on the night of 04 August 2021, and said that the reason was due to "some frictions between him and Dr. Naim that are very old through Facebook and other things." 

On 22 August 2021, the West Capital Municipality Court of First Instance held its first hearing in Salih’s trial, where he denied all of his previous statements. Citizens gathered in front of the court during its session and raised pictures of Naim and demanded the judiciary to take the necessary legal measures to prosecute the accused in addition to those who instigated or supported him. The hearing has been adjourned to 29 August 2021.

On 17 August 2021, freelance photojournalist Taha Saleh wrote on his Facebook page, "I didn't kill anyone, I didn't rob anyone, to send a group of masked soldiers over at midnight to surround the house." On the same day, his colleague, photojournalist Naeef El-Wafi, who works with Al-Jazeera, wrote on his Facebook page, "Posted in a hurry, a fellow journalist called me back and said that Military Intelligence was looking for me and my number." These posts came after units of the Military Intelligence Directorate raided the house at which they were staying in the city of Taiz, from which Al-Wafi managed to escape and take shelter in a safe place. Saleh was outside the house at the time of the storming.

The two photojournalists were targeted because they covered the heinous massacre that happened to the Al-Harq family in the Amad area of ​​the Bir Basha neighborhood of Taiz. Members of the family were killed or kidnapped after armed clashes that took place on 10 August 2021.

Al-Wafi confirmed that military elements affiliated with the army that follows President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi carried out this massacre, writing on his Facebook page on 13 August 2021, "Don't kill me with an army suit and weapon, our army. And when will you be strong, our army?"

In addition, Saleh called for justice and redress for the families of the victims. On 16 August 2021, he wrote on his Facebook page, "The accusations are the unwillingness to do justice to the families of the victims, by arresting and prosecuting the killers. That is what is happening in Taiz."