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The New Arab Staff

Abducted Yemeni model held in Houthi prison threatens hunger strike

Sanaa has been under Houthi-control since 2014 [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 April, 2021

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Entisar Al-Hammadi is a model and actress who has been kidnapped by the Yemeni rebel Houthi group, and is now threatening to go on hunger strike.

Yemeni model held by the Houthis has threatened to go on hunger strike if the rebels continue to detain her, according to reports on Sunday.

Entisar Al-Hammadi, a 20-year-old model, asked to be questioned by local prosecutors rather than the Yemeni militia group but her request was denied, lawyer Khaled Mohammed Al-Kamal said.

Talking on Al-Hammadi's behalf to Arab News, he said that she intended to go on hunger strike if she was not released from a Houthi-controlled prison.

He added that she was abducted on 20 February, not last month as some media reports had suggested.

"The prison has rejected three demands to transfer my client to the court. I believe that they refused to release her due to the huge media coverage of the case," Al-Kamal said, speaking on behalf of the model. "There are no clear charges brought against my client."

Al-Hammadi was kidnapped in Sanaa along with two other female actresses as they were on their way to shoot a drama series, according to Yemeni officials.

Their detentions have sparked outrage on social media, with the hashtag #FreeEntisar being used in English and Arabic.

"This heinous crime confirms the crimes of kidnapping women by the militia in their areas and reflects that [that] isn't personal behaviour but is organised work," said Yemen's Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Moammar Al-Eryani.

Sanaa has been under Houthi control since 2014.

In an interview with Balqees TV in 2020, Al-Hammadi said she chose to become a model despite her parents saying her ambitions were "pie in the sky".

While she began shoots wearing a hijab, her eventual decision to model without one prompted a backlash in some parts of Yemen, Arab News reported.

In June 2020, the local Abductees' Mothers Association issued a report that documented 1,030 cases of kidnapping by the Houthis including 23 women and 11 children the year before.

Along with other organisation SAM rights and liberties, it issued a joint statement on Saturday saying that they were worried about the detainees at the Houthi-controlled prison in Sanaa because of "illegal practices and abuses by members of the Houthi group inside the prison".

These abuses had pushed several people to start a hunger strike, the groups said.

"The two organisations emphasise that the continued violations against detainees by the Houthi group pose a real threat to the lives of those detained if they insist on their enforced disappearance and intransigence in their release," the statement read.

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