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Yemen: Prisoners on hunger strike in UAE military prison

October 26, 2017 at 1:35 pm

An inmate looks out of his prison cell in UAE [Abbtakk/Facebook]

Dozens of Yemeni prisoners have started a hunger strike in a UAE-controlled prison in southern Yemen, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported today.

The prisoners began their hunger strikes on 21 October, according to HRW. The UAE-backed Security Belt Forces have the prisoners detained at Bir Ahmed, a military camp in Aden.

“Detainees should not have to refuse food to be treated humanely and free from abuse,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW. “The UAE and their Yemeni proxies should stop denying responsibility for mistreatment and investigate and act on the complaints,” Whitson continued.

One woman in contact with HRW said her husband has been missing for one and a half years. Prisoners held at the military detention camp have been denied access to lawyers and family for 19 months.

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“Families across Yemen are calling on the warring parties to end abuses against detained men and boys, allow those wrongfully held to come home, and grant those held for cause their rights to lawyers, family visits, and legal review of their detention,” Whitson said.

The United Arab Emirates has denied mistreating the detainees.

Last month a Yemeni citizen died under “severe torture” inside a secret prison operated by the UAE in south Yemen.

The UAE joined the Saudi-led coalition in March to execute a bombing campaign against the Iranian-backed Houthi armed group, undermining the territorial control of internationally recognised President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. The UAE has focused its military presence in the south of Yemen.

The Associated Press previously published an investigation concluding that hundreds of men, rounded up in a hunt for Al-Qaeda linked fighters, have disappeared into a network of prisons in southern Yemen. Torture methods including the “grill” are being used, in which a prisoner is tied to a pit like roast and spun in fire.

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