First Published: 2017-08-18

Yemen rebels urged to free political commentator
Hisham al-Omeisy, who has criticised both Huthi rebels and Saudi-led coalition battling the rebels in Yemen, was detained on Monday.
Middle East Online

The Iran-backed Huthis are allied with troops loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

SANAA - Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International on Friday urged Yemen's Shiite Huthi rebels to free a political commentator they detained this week in Sanaa.

Hisham al-Omeisy, 38, who has criticised both Huthi-imposed restrictions on independent organisations and actions by a Saudi-led coalition battling the rebels, was detained on Monday, the two organisations said in separate statements.

"Yemen more than ever needs activists like Hisham al-Omeisy to bring attention to the devastation that war, famine and disease have wrought on the country and its people," HRW's Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson said.

"Huthi authorities should immediately release al-Omeisy and return him safely to his family."

Amnesty's Samah Hadid called Omeisy "a prisoner of conscience, whose only 'crime' is peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression".

"He must be released immediately," she said.

HRW said it has documented 66 cases of arbitrary arrest by the rebels, who control Sanaa and parts of northern Yemen. Two of the captives died in detention and 11 were tortured or ill-treated, it said.

The Iran-backed Huthis, allied with troops loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, are fighting government forces backed by a Saudi-led Arab military coalition.

More than 8,400 people -- over half of them civilians -- have been killed since the coalition intervened in 2015.

The fighting has caused a humanitarian catastrophe which the UN says is the world's worst, pushing seven million people to the brink of famine and sparking a cholera outbreak that the World Health Organization says has killed 2,000 people.

 

Baghdad refuses talks with Kurdistan about referendum results

Three Israelis killed at West Bank settlement

Seven arrested in Egypt for raising rainbow flag at concert

European ambassadors to US strongly back Iran nuclear pact

Dubai set to become first city with flying taxis

Saudi establishment spreading Shiite hate speech

Madrid hails Rabat’s collaboration in fighting terrorism

Regional tensions rise in Kurds’ independence vote

Iraq Kurds start voting in historic independence referendum

UAE announces plans for region’s first nuclear reactor

Erdogan threatens Iraqi Kurds with border closure, oil block

Putin to visit Erdogan this week for Syria, Iraq talks

Sudan vows to step up efforts to improve US ties

Turkey to launch intervention into Syria — and maybe into Iraq

Egyptian ‘world’s heaviest woman’ dies in Abu Dhabi

Palestinian unity government remains unlikely

Emirati man fights his employer to serve in country’s army

Palestinian PM to visit Gaza next week

Saudi advisory body to tackle female driving ban

Turkey denies closing Iraqi border in response to Kurdish vote

US air strikes kill 17 Islamic State militants in Libya

US-led strikes killed 84 civilians near Syria's Raqa

Yemen's Hadi says military solution 'most likely'

The high cost of Syria’s destruction

Palestinian negotiator awaits lung transplant in US

Kurds ready for contentious vote in Iraq

A Kurdish state: Reality or utopia?

Saudi intercepts missile fired from Yemen

Saudi Arabia marks national day with fireworks, concerts

Iran defies US, tests missile

Turkey warns of 'security' steps in response to Iraqi Kurd vote

Barzani delays Kurdish independence vote announcement

Syria's war off the radar at UN assembly

For many Iraqis, tradition trumps police

Darfur clashes kill 3 as Bashir urges reconciliation

Saudi cleric banned for saying women have ‘quarter’ brain

Veteran Syrian activist, daughter assassinated in Istanbul

Tunisia drops forced anal exams for homosexuality

Bomb used in Saudi-led strike on Yemen children US-made

Syria Kurds vote to cement federal push

Police charge teenager over London Underground attack

Nigerian official to meet Turkish counterpart over illegal guns

Thousands feared trapped in Raqa as IS mounts last stand

Iraqi forces achieve first step in new offensive on IS

Migrant boat sinks off Turkish Black Sea coast leaving four dead, 20 missing