PAX condemns the detention of two prominent human rights advocates by authorities in Yemen and demands authorities ensure their safety and freedom of movement.
Radhya Almutawakel and Abdulrasheed Alfaqih were detained for less than twenty-four hours by Saudi-led coalition forces at the Seyoun airport when they tried to travel to Oslo, Norway. There they were to take part in an event at the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue.
Bonyan Gamal, a legal assistant at Mwatana visiting the Netherlands, told PAX, “Their arrest means the work Mwatana is doing is strong. It bothers those who are violating human rights.”
Recognition for their work
Mr. Alfaqih is the executive director and Ms. Almutawakel is the chairperson of the Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, which investigating human rights violations committed by all parties to the war in Yemen. Last year, Ms. Almutawakel briefed the UN Security Council on how the war and ongoing support of the Saudi-led coalition with weapons and other means provided by European countries affected Yemeni civilians. The two were awarded the Global Advocate Award at Colombia Law School in 2017 and were nominated for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Human Rights Tulip in 2016. PAX is actively working with Mwatana on a range of issues related to humanitarian disarmament in Yemen.
Although the two were released from custody, their situation remains unclear.
Ms. Gamal says the international community has a role. “Insist that the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni government are held accountable for Radhya and Abdulrasheed’s safety. Insist that they stop the arrest of civilians and push for dialogue to help solve the conflict. Any kind of pressure right now is helpful.”
Mwatana’s independent investigative work in Yemen is particularly vital at the moment as millions of Yemenis already suffering due to the war are further endangered by the UAE-orchestrated offensive on the port of Hodeidah, critical for the supply of humanitarian aid to the country.