Yemen has been in conflict since 2014 which has caused extreme suffering to millions of people resulting in devastating conditions.
Tens of thousands of civilians have been detained for little or no reason, treated with cruelty and unfairness, in conditions that are not fit for any living being.
It is not just the political or military prisoners who face these conditions, but also those awaiting trials or serving their sentences.
Yemen’s prisons and detention facilities lack the most basic provisions. There is no water or sanitation. Inmates live in cramped quarters, with neither their dignity nor their basic rights being respected. Broken windows, rats, cockroaches, damp, dirt and leaking toilets would cause a catastrophic disaster.
THESE PEOPLE – INNOCENT OR GUILTY – WILL BE SUFFERING UNTOLD HORRORS WITH THE SPREAD OF COVID 19. THOSE AMONG THEM WHO ALREADY SUFFER FROM CHRONIC ILLNESS AND RESPIRATORY DISEASES BECAUSE OF THE CONDITIONS, WILL FACE UNDUE HARM AND POSSIBLE DEATH.
THE ISSUE OF PRISONERS’ RELEASE HAS LONG BEEN ON THE AGENDA OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY, AS A KEY CONFIDENCE BUILDING STEP TOWARDS PEACE. AS THE THREAT OF COVID 19 HAS INCREASED, MANY NATIONS HAVE SOUGHT THE RELEASE OF PRISONERS AS A MEANS OF REDUCING THE RISK OF IT SPREADING LIKE WILDFIRE IN OUR COMMUNITIES.
YET THE CONFLICT PARTIES IN YEMEN HAVE NOT HEEDED ANY CALLS. THE HOUTHI armed group WHO control the highest number of detention centers in the north, The Southern Transitional Council that controls most detention centers in the South, in addition to the internationally recognized government that controls some prisons in the north and south of the country – NONE OF THEM HAVE TAKEN RESPONSIBLE ACTIONS TO PREVENT A NEW TRAGEDY UNFOLDING IN OUR MIDST. THEY DEMONSTRATE THEIR DISREGARD FOR YEMENI CITIZENS, BY CONTINUING TO COMPETE FOR POWER, IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY WILLING TO SHARE THE RESPONSIBLITY FOR THE LIVES AND WELLBEING OF OUR PEOPLE, OR FOR THE PROVISION OF public services and HEALTH CARE.
THE LIVES OF THE detainees and prisoners SHOULD NOT BE USED AS POLITICAL BARGAINING CHIPS. THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS AND DESERVE TO BE TREATED HUMANELY. All parties to the conflict should address this with responsibility and in a serious manner
Conflict parties in Yemen must release all prisoners URGENTLY. Their continued detention under the current circumstances not only threatens to spread COVID-19 amongst them but also beyond prison walls. THERE ARE OPTIONS AVAILABLE according to Yemeni law. PARTIES CAN:
release prisoners under house arrest, AND/OR
put them on no-travel lists
OTHER COUNTRIES ARE DOING THIS NOW. YEMEN MUST ACT.
We ASK you to TAKE immediate action to pressure all conflict PARTIES in Yemen to release all prisoners before it is too late. YOUR VOICE AND YOUR WORDS AT THIS TIME, NOT ONLY MATTERS, BUT IT CAN SAVE LIVES, AND HELP US STEM THE SPREAD OF COVID 19. PLEASE JOIN US.