The UAE’s Human Right Violations in Yemen

Bab al YemenYemen, one of the poorest countries in the Middle Eastern region, has been destroyed and devastated by the forces of internationally recognized government and external forces, such as the Saudis who are fighting the Shiite rebels of Houthi movement. The war has been amplified with the involvement of the Shiite nation of Iran, who is supporting the Houthis.

This civil war, which broke out due to the persistent and severe political crisis has now been transformed into a sectarian one where Sunni and Shia majority countries of the region are trying to settle scores in a neutral battlefield. Since war brings many atrocities with it, the same can be witnessed in Yemen where years of conflict has led to a humanitarian disaster that has left 70% population of the country in need of aid.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia, the two main players of the Yemen conflict, are committing crimes against humanity. This article casts light on human right violations committed by the UAE in Yemen. According to Human Rights Watch, the UAE has been supporting Yemeni forces that have forcibly disappeared, tortured and abused many people. They have also made arbitrary detentions during security operations. The UAE is not only financing those forces, but it is also responsible for supplying arms and training their personnel.

The UAE is harboring a network of illegal detention sites

According to the definition from International human rights law, an enforced disappearance occurs when authorities take someone into custody without revealing their true whereabouts or deny their custody altogether. People who are detained in facilities other than police jails and prisons are more vulnerable to illegal and inhuman torture and basic human right violations.

Local human rights groups and lawyers have documented hundreds of cases of arbitrary detentions and forced disappearances in the region that was formerly controlled by the government of Yemeni President Hadi. These areas are now controlled and commanded by forces backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. These forces, since backed by powerful countries of the region, operate with impunity. They arrest and detain people and put them in unofficial detention sites.

This byproduct of war and conflict in Yemen are also fueling terrorism in the region. Common people who have nothing to do with dirty games of war and politics are bearing the brunt of this conflict and are forced to take sides.

The UAE is also behind the illegal transfer of detainees out of Yemen

The details of human rights violation does not stop here. According to local lawyers and relatives of people who had gone missing, thanks to Saudi/UAE backed forces, the UAE is facilitating the transfer of high level targets outside of Yemen.

As reported by a local activist, 15 people who were linked with Al-Qaeda had been moved to a naval base in Eretria’s port city, Assab, without any trial or conviction. The base was formally owned and operated by the UAE. These high-level detainees are not allowed to contest this illegal move in the country’s court where they have been transferred to.

The UAE tries to lobby on war crimes in Yemen

According to a hacked email exchange between the UAE’s ambassador to the US and a top Obama national security official, the ambassador tried to convince the Obama administration that human rights reporting on the Yemen War, and especially the role played by the UAE, was thoroughly biased.

The UAE is also responsible for crimes against children in Yemen

It is important to mention that there is a report in Reuters that elucidates how Arab monarchies tried to coerce the then-UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon into removing the Saudi-led coalition from a blacklist for child rights violation. Foreign ministers of many GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries collectively threatened to stop the aid of millions of dollars to different humanitarian programs of the UN. It doesn’t stop there. Clerics in Saudi Arabia even considered issuing religious decrees (fatwa) against the United Nations, calling it ‘anti-Muslim’, which, if enacted would mean no support to the U.N. for any programs they provide.

The bullying and threats ultimately led to the removal of the Saudi-led coalition from the blacklist of forces accused of violations against children. According to the UN’s report released in May 2016, the coalition, including the UAE, was responsible for 60% child injuries and deaths in 2015 and many of those casualties occurred due to coalition’s attack on hospitals and schools.

Instead of yielding to the power of their dirty money, the world community should condemn the UAE and Saudi Arabia for their war crimes in Yemen that have inflicted tragedy on millions of people, including women and children.