Yemen's rebels okay peace deal amid detainee abuse outcry

Yemen's rebels okay peace deal amid detainee abuse outcry
3 min read
17 November, 2016
A spokesperson for the rebels confirmed that the Iran-backed group would observe the latest peace agreement, as Human Rights Watch reports that Houthi forces 'arbitrarily' arrest and torture their opponents.
Pro-government forces captured a number of neighbourhoods in west Taiz on November 15 [AFP]

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have confirmed that they will stick to a US-sponsored peace deal as fighting in the country continues unabated.

Government forces said that they were not invited to the peace-talks between US Secretary of State, John Kerry and rebel leaders in Oman and may not observe the agreement.

"The United States bears the historical and moral responsibility for aggression in Yemen, regardless of why it wants to stop this war,” rebel spokesperson Mohammed Abd al-Salam said in a TV interview with al-Masirah.

“We are aware that the US is leading the war, the war was declared by Washington and the Americans are represented by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”

According to the terms of the ceasefire, a truce will begin from dawn on Friday.

Fighting continued in various parts of the country regardless of the truce, with government troops now controlling parts of western Taiz.

A spokesperson for pro-government forces said that 30 Houthi troops had clashed with government forces in the vicinity of Midi, Haja province on Wednesday.

Local sources in al-Mahfid, Abyan, told The New Arab that al-Qaeda gunmen kidnapped two soldiers and injured two others during an attack on a security check-point at dawn on Thursday.

There have been a total of six peace agreements since fighting broke out in March 2015 but none of the agreements have succeeded.

Human Rights Watch reported that Houthi forces are “arbitrarily” detaining and torturing their opponents.

Arbitrary detention

The peace agreement came on the same day Human Rights Watch reported that Houthi forces are “arbitrarily” detaining and torturing their opponents.

“The conflict with the Saudi Arabia-led coalition provides no justification for torture and ‘disappearance’ of perceived opponents,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

“The Sanaa authorities put themselves at risk of future prosecution if they don’t account for the people who are wrongfully detained and return them to their families.”

Human Rights Watch reported that rebel forces had arrested at least 61 people without following the proper processes since August 2014, of whom two had died..

“The authorities have since released at least 26, but 24 remain in custody,” Human Rights Watch said in the report.

Abdul Basit Ghazi, a lawyer at the Defence Authority of Abductees and Prisoners, a Yemeni NGO which provides advocacy for prisoners, said that the general prosecutor had ordered investigations into cases of alleged abuse, but the authorities rarely investigate.

It has been estimated that nearly 10,000 people have been killed and 37,000 wounded since civil war broke out in Yemen in March 2015.