The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies (SCSS) strongly condemns the detention of its Executive Director, Maged Al-Madhaji, by armed forces loyal to the Houthi rebel movement. On Saturday morning, September 19th, Madhaji was arrested at a protest demanding freedom for Yemenis held extrajudicially by the Houthis and their allies, along with journalist Mahmoud Yassin , Bassim Al-Warafi and the founders of Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, Radhya Al-Mutawakel and Abdulrasheed Al-Faqih. Mutawakel has been released. Regretfully, the rest remain in detention.
Today’s arrests of civil society activists constitute the latest in a series of blatant civil liberty violations that have seen armed groups in Yemen attempt to silence dissident voices in the country. These crackdowns–in addition to the ongoing military conflict–have effectively strangled Yemen’s civil society, threatening to completely reverse the limited gains made since the 2011 Arab Spring-inspired uprising. Notably, Madhaji, Faqih and Mutawakil recently joined dozens of fellow human rights activists in the region in urging the establishment of an independent investigation into ongoing human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law in the war stricken country.
The SCSS calls for the Houthis to immediately free Madhaji, Faqih, Yassin ,Warafi and all other citizens wrongfully imprisoned in the country. Simultaneously, we continue to urge all parties involved in the ongoing conflict to return to good faith negotiations in hopes of establishing a permanent ceasefire, particularly in light of the deepening humanitarian crisis facing the country. We urge local, regional and international civil society organizations to join in solidarity in condemnation of these extrajudicial arrests and in support of a free, peaceful and democratic Yemen. We look forward to the imminent release of our colleagues.