Human Rights

On ‘day of the kidnapped Yemeni’, Mothers of Abductees hold vigils from their homes

The Mothers of Abductees Association carried out vigils across Yemen on Saturday morning to mark the “day of the kidnapped Yemeni,” in a unified call for prisoners of war and political detainees to be released. 

On the morning of April 18, dozens of women associated with the non-partisan advocacy group Mothers of Abductees held vigils in Sana’a, Aden, Hodeidah, Taiz, Ibb and Marib. To respect the need for social distancing as a precautionary step to confront COVID-19, the mothers of abductees, as well as wives, children, and relatives of those imprisoned, took the unusual step of holding vigils from their homes.

The Mothers of Abductees Association, which has been the most prominent voice in calling for the release of abducted and disappeared Yemenis, has stepped up its campaigning in recent weeks as its members and supporters fear that the Yemenis languishing in prisons nationwide are especially susceptible to the spread of coronavirus. In a statement released to accompany the vigils on Saturday, the Mothers of Abductees called for the unconditional release of prisoners as a proactive step to face the deadly virus.

The Association said in a statement that 1,649 kidnapped citizens remain in Houthi prisons, and 34 arbitrarily detained persons are currently being held in prisons run by military and security bodies in Aden. This is in addition to the 270 people that the group says have been forcibly disappeared by the Houthis, and 40 by armed actors in Aden.

The Mothers of Abductees has also documented hundreds of prisoner deaths. A total of 71 abductees have been tortured to death by the Houthis, in addition to 14 others who died due to access to proper health care in the prisons, it announced. For its part, the Saudi-led coalition has killed 210 abductees, by bombing prisons and other detention facilities.

The Association also condemned last week’s death sentences handed out by the Houthis to four journalists and 47 other abductees, in what are widely regarded as sham trials that do not follow proper procedure. 

In its statement on Saturday, the Mothers of Abductees called on the UN secretary-general and Security Council, and the special envoy to Yemen to commit all parties to release all abductees, detainees and forcibly disappeared; to deal firmly with and hold the perpetrators of kidnapping, concealment, and torture accountable; and to impose sanctions on senior perpetrators of these crimes.

Despite the signing of the Stockholm Agreement at the end of 2018, the parties have failed to implement the agreement, and stumbled for a whole year in exchanging lists of prisoners and revising them, the Association said.



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