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HRW: Houthis, Pro-Hadi Fighters Abused Detainees in Aden

  • VOA News

Shi'ite rebels known as Houthis hold up their weapons as they chant slogans during a rally against Saudi-led airstrikes in Sana'a, Yemen, Aug. 24, 2015.

Shi'ite rebels known as Houthis hold up their weapons as they chant slogans during a rally against Saudi-led airstrikes in Sana'a, Yemen, Aug. 24, 2015.

Human Rights Watch has called for Houthi fighters and pro-government forces in Yemen's southern city of Aden to humanely treat detainees and to punish anyone responsible for committing abuses against them.

The Houthis seized Aden in March, but fighters backing exiled President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi reclaimed the port city after months of clashes.

HRW said the pro-Hadi forces were holding 255 Houthi fighters in facilities around Aden, and had executed at least seven Houthi prisoners since March. The rights group also said the location of some of those detained by the Houthis is not known, while those in custody have been threatened and held in "harsh conditions."

"Southern forces that have regained control of Aden should end abuses against prisoners and do all they can to establish law and order in the city," HRW's Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson said. "The Houthis need to release anyone wrongfully detained and account for everyone they are holding."

The situation in Yemen escalated a year ago when the Houthis took control of the capital, Sana'a, which they still control. Months later they pushed south toward Aden, sending Hadi fleeing to Saudi Arabia and sparking the Saudis to lead a coalition of militaries conducting airstrikes against Houthi targets. The Saudis have also sent in heavy weapons to assist the pro-Hadi fighters on the ground.

But the airstrikes and ground combat have created a humanitarian calamity in Yemen. The United Nations says about 4,500 people have been killed and 80 percent of Yemeni civilians desperately need food, medicine, and other humanitarian aid.

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