Conscription in return for release.. Houthi bargaining for prisoners and abductees under the umbrella of "general amnesty"

English - الأربعاء 15 مارس 2023 الساعة 08:30 م
Sana'a, NewsYemen, exclusive:

 During the past months, the Houthi militia, Iran's arm in Yemen, has intensified its holding of seminars, lectures and sectarian lessons for prison inmates in Sana'a and the various Yemeni governorates under its control.

 Houthi activities are carried out by extremist clerics and leaders, focusing on spreading false ideas and beliefs aimed at convincing prisoners and those sentenced in criminal cases of the need to join their ranks and participate in the fighting fronts they run against the liberated Yemeni governorates.

 A relative of an inmate in the Central Prison in Sana'a told "NewsYemen": that prisoners are forced to attend a lecture given almost weekly by a Houthi leader, explaining that the lectures focused on jihad and the importance of confronting the projects of the West and the Jews, and other false information promoted by the Houthi militia with the aim of to deceive the prisoners and push them to declare their enrollment in its ranks.

He added, "After subjecting the prisoners to several lectures, Houthi supervisors go to the prison in order to register the names of those wishing to go to the fronts and participate in the fighting in exchange for a conditional release," explaining that the Houthis have registered prisoners, some of whom are convicted of criminal and terrorist cases, after they agreed to the Houthi condition.

Special program for prisoners

 A source in the Prisons Authority in Sana'a reported to "Newsyemen" that the Houthi Ministry of Endowments, under the supervision of the Houthi leader, Muhammad al-Dailami, has prepared an educational program targeting all central prisons in Sana'a and the rest of the governorates.  

The program relied on Houthi clerics holding a series of lectures inside prisons and forcing prisoners and abductees to attend and listen to them with the aim of sectarianizing them and spreading extremist and terrorist ideas and false beliefs.

The source pointed out that most of the information that is promoted is focused on jihad, joining their ranks, participating in the fighting alongside them, and heading to the fronts, explaining that Houthi leaders under the so-called "inspection committees" go to prisons in order to bargain and barter prisoners under the principle of participating in the fighting in exchange for  Release", which is a seduction process offered by the militias in order to attract the largest number of prisoners and include them as fighters.

Constant mobilization

 Human rights reports revealed that the militias escalated during the last period the process of attracting prisoners in the cities under their control after subjecting them to sectarian courses, lectures and lessons. These coup moves during the past months resulted in the release of 215 prisoners in 3 governorates, some of whom are pending criminal cases in order to join them on the fronts.  

The announced releases came under the umbrella of the "general amnesty", a Houthi ploy that is being promoted to justify prisoner releases from time to time.

According to the sources, the militia released 70 prisoners from its detention centers in Amran governorate, 113 prisoners from Al Hudaydah governorate, and 32 detainees from prisons in Raymah governorate.  

According to the sources, the released prisoners were transferred directly to training camps in order to prepare them and send them to the fronts.

In the middle of last year, the Houthi militia managed, through conditional release campaigns, to recruit more than 800 prisoners and detainees in about 5 Yemeni governorates under its control.

 Kidnappings and torture

 The mobilization program inside prisons is accompanied by brutal torture against those who refuse, especially among the abductees who were arbitrarily arrested in military campaigns and checkpoints in their areas of control.

According to human rights activists in Sana'a, a large number of abducted civilians who were imprisoned without charges have accepted the Houthi bargain to escape the psychological and physical torture they are subjected to after refusing to attend Houthi lectures or the recruitment process.

 The jurists explained that the kidnapping campaigns have become systematic with the aim of recruitment, as many young men have been arrested mainly from checkpoints and raid campaigns in rural areas under the control of the Houthi militia, and the abductees are imprisoned without charges or even judicial files and they are not brought before the prosecution or courts for several months in order to appease them and force them to accept conscription

A recent human rights report issued by the Irada Organization against Torture and Enforced Disappearance revealed the documentation of various torture crimes against 120 abductees in several Houthi prisons, while the death of 7 civilian abductees was documented during the past year.

 The report indicated that last year the organization received 108 reports of kidnapping and enforced disappearance of civilians from homes, workplaces, checkpoints, and security and military ambushes of the Houthi militia, as its legal team was able to verify 86 cases of kidnapping out of the total number of reports, and it was also able to document 38 cases of enforced disappearance in Houthi detention centers.