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Rights Group Accuses Yemen's Houthis of Arbitrary Detentions

  • VOA News

FILE - Shiite fighters, known as Houthis, ride on a patrol truck as they chant slogans during a tribal gathering showing support for the Houthi movement in Sanaa, Yemen.

An international rights organization has accused Yemen's Shi'ite Houthi rebels of arbitrarily detaining and forcibly disappearing dozens of people in the capital, Sana'a.

The rebel group detained at least 35 people between August 2014 and October 2015, according to a report released Sunday by Human Rights Watch. Twenty-seven of those detained are reported still in custody. Many have links to the rival Sunni Islah Islamist party.

HRW says in addition to political opponents, the Houthis have targeted journalists reporting for opposition outlets.

"Houthi arrests and forced disappearances of alleged Islah supporters have generated palpable fear in the capital," said Joe Stork, HRW'S deputy Middle East director.

"Politicians, activists, lawyers and journalists tell us they've never been more frightened of ending up 'disappeared.'"

The Houthi rebels seized the capital, Sana'a, in September 2014 and later took control of the port city of Aden and other regions. In response, the Saudi government launched coalition airstrikes that have since pushed rebels out of Aden.

The fighting has killed an estimated 5,700 people.