Scores of Yemeni women have held a protest outside the home of the country’s interior minister, calling on the government to give them information about their sons reportedly held in an Emirati-run prison.
The Association of Mothers of Abductees, a group run by Yemeni women who advocate for their arrested or disappeared civilian relatives, demanded to know the fate of their children, some of whom have been missing for more than two years.
The women said in a statement in the port city of Aden on Sunday that despite orders from the government that some of the detainees would be released, some 86 other detainees had staged a month-long hunger strike at the Bir Ahmed prison over their detention.
“We call on the government, the minister of the interior and the Attorney-General to reveal the fate of the dozens of missing prisoners and to uncover their secret places of detention,” the statement read.
"Release my father," the signs says. This is the son of Zakarya Qassim, a local council member & humanitarian activist who was abducted & forcibly disappeared by security forces in Aden exactly a year ago with no due process or any info about his whereabouts. #Yemen pic.twitter.com/HT3MQjR1DL
— Nadwa Dawsari (@Ndawsari) January 27, 2019
The Bir Ahmed prison in the southern governorate of Aden is a secret facility run by the Security Belt, a militia affiliated to the United Arab Emirates.
According to several human rights groups, the Security Belt operates a clandestine network of prisons across southern Yemen where hundreds of people have been held in inhumane conditions.
A report obtained by Al Jazeera in September alleged that the Emirati army and their Yemeni allies were using electric cables, wooden bats and steel poles during interrogation sessions.
In some instances, detainees were sexually abused, or deprived of sleep and confined to narrow spaces with poor hygienic conditions and limited air ventilation.
Families of detainees have held near-weekly protests, seeking information about their missing sons, brothers and fathers.
With logistical support from the United States, the coalition has carried out more than 18,000 raids on Houthi-held areas in an attempt to reverse their gains.
The coalition has also been helping the US target the Yemeni branches of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).
According to recent estimates, as many as 85,000 children may have died from hunger since the coalition’s intervention.