The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies strongly condemns the deportation of two of its researchers, Farea al-Muslimi and Sama’a al-Hamdani from Bahrain. The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) invited Hamdani and Muslimi as independent Yemen specialists to participate in this weekend’s Manama Dialogue (October 30-31).
Despite being granted visas from Bahrain’s Interior Ministry, Muslimi and Hamdani were unable to attend the Manama Dialogue, as their visas were revoked early Friday morning. Hamdani was turned back at Bahrain International Airport, despite holding a valid visa. She was kept in the airport for 10 hours. Muslimi, already inside Bahrain, was attending a conference workshop when he was informed by Bahraini authorities that he was no longer welcome in the country. He was then forced to leave immediately, flying out of Manama on Friday afternoon.
The Sana’a Center and the hosts of the conference later learned that the driving force behind their deportation was Yemen’s acting Foreign Minister, Riyadh Yaseen, who claims to have received directives from President Hadi’s office in Riyadh. These actions constitute a direct violation of his ministerial mandate.
It is an alarming precedent for Yemen’s leadership in exile, given the context of war and humanitarian crisis within Yemen itself, to focus its energy on stifling independent Yemeni voices. It reflects a truly bizarre set of priorities, in addition to an outrageous attack on the civil liberties of Yemeni citizens by officials who have sworn a constitutional oath to represent them. We are also concerned by the fact that a number of other Yemeni researchers were similarly barred from attending the Manama Dialogue. We call on IISS to clarify their stance on the events that have transpired, which ultimately violate the ideas and objectives that the Manama Dialogue aims to represent.
These actions do not intimidate our organization or our researchers. To the contrary, they only reinforce our commitment to taking the principled, difficult and often unpopular stances that we believe are needed to foster a better Yemen.
This ordeal constitutes a mere footnote in the ongoing tragedy facing the Yemeni people. Thus, we take this opportunity to reiterate our calls for the end of Yemen’s devastating wars, the lifting of internal and external blockades on commercial traffic and humanitarian aid, and an independent international investigation into allegations of war crimes committed by factions involved in the ongoing conflict. We urge international and regional actors to redouble efforts to broker a ceasefire and work to facilitate a political agreement between key actors that can serve as the foundation for the difficult, but necessary, task of building a free, peaceful, prosperous and democratic Yemen.