In a tweet, the Chinese embassy to Yemen emphasized the release of four senior government officials: Mahmoud Al-Sabihi, Mohammed Qahtan, Faisal Rajab and Nasser Mansour Hadi
As Yemen braces for COVID-19, China calls for release of prisoners
The Chinese Embassy to Yemen called on all parties to the conflict to release prisoners and detainees in accordance with the prisoner exchange demands in UN Security Council resolution 2216, issued shortly after the outbreak of war in 2015.
In a tweet on Sunday, the Chinese embassy named high-level government and military officials being held by the Houthis, including ex-Minister of Defense Mahmoud Al-Sabihi, President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi’s brother and political security undersecretary in Aden, Lahj and Abyan, Nasser Mansour Hadi, military commander, Faisal Rajab, and Mohammed Qahtan, the leader of Yemen’s Islah party.
"The COVID-19 virus is the enemy of all Yemenis, and we therefore call on all Yemeni parties to release prisoners and abductees as soon as possible, especially the four who are covered by the UN Security Council resolution: Mahmoud Al-Sabihi, Mohammed Qahtan, Faisal Rajab and Nasser Mansour Hadi, so they [can reunite] with their families," the tweet said.
"Many countries have released prisoners in order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus," the embassy added.
Interestingly, the embassy made no mention of the late 2018 Stockholm Agreement between Yemen's warring parties, which has been working towards a comprehensive prisoner exchange throughout the country.
On Sunday evening, activists launched an online campaign to demand the release of Qahtan under the hashtag, #FreedomforQahtan.
Nearly 800 prisoners around the country have been released in Yemen by the internationally recognized government and the Houthi authorities. On Sunday, the Houthis shelled the Central Prison in Taiz, leaving five female prisoners and a visiting child dead, and 28 injured.
Edited by Ahlam Mohsen and Casey Coombs