Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Report: what really happened in Al-Dhale?

Yemeni Activists Urge Human Rights Council to Act and End Al-Dahle Bloodshed

We are all Al-Dahle

A group of activists, civic and political groups in Yemen urge the (Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group) and several of UN diplomats to quickly intervene in Al-Dahle city and stop the horrific bloodshed by the Yemeni army.

Al-Dahle has been witnessing a periodical shelling and bombardment resulting in the killing, injuring dozens of civilians. Plus, tens of people are in acute need for support: food and shelter, after they fled their destroyed homes and the violence. Read more on the killing and violence in Al-Dahle in my previous blog posts (Warning: Graphic) here and here. Also, the activists are demonstrating today in Sana'a in solidarity with victims of Al-Dahle, demanding the end of the Yemeni army violent bombardment against the people in Al-Dhale.

The following is a letter written by The Alliance of Revolutionary Forces outside the National Dialogue Conference sent to The Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group who's currently meeting in Geneva to discuss and assess several countries' records in Human Rights. Yemen is among those countries. The letter is a thorough report on the massive human rights abuses by the Yemeni authorities in Al-Dhale city with the recent bloodshed carried out.

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January 29, 2014

To: Mr. Baudelaire Ndong Ella President of Human Rights Council
Cc: Mr. Ban Ki-moon UN Secretary General, Ms. Navanethem Pillay UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Jamal Ben Omar UN Secretary General Special Advisor on Yemen, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein

Sana'a, Yemen

Since December 21, 2013, the governorates in the South of Yemen in general and Ad-Dali' in particular have been witnessing an extreme deterioration in the humanitarian situation, especially after the escalation of violence against civilians amid the clashes between the government forces and the "Southern - Hirak Movement". The Southerners' decision to carry out a popular uprising on December 20th, 2014 - in order to control government sites; including army and security headquarters, trade routes, oil company locations, and other critical location - negatively impacted the frequency and escalation of violence in the region. The South Uprising was a reaction to several matters, such as to the continuous disregard by the central government in Sana'a to their demands of self-determination, and to the failure of including their concerns in the mechanics of the transitional process, or in Yemen's National Dialogue: which the Southerners have withdrew from at an early stage.

On December 27, 2103, around one o'clock in the afternoon, a military armored vehicle traced to the Armored Brigade no. (33), which is based in the city of Al-Dhale, fired three batches of heavy-caliber weaponry towards a public school in the village of Sanah where a funeral tent, while (150) civilians and (30) children were giving their condolence on the death of Fahmi Mohammed Qasim, 26, a native of the village and a member of "the Southern Hirak movement". The bombardment lead to the death of (15) civilians, including another (6) killed ones of women and children, and (22) injured civilians, (9) of them were children.

On the morning of January 6th, 2014, the forces of Brigade (33) carried a military attack to control the only water-well that the residents of the city of Al-Dhale and its neighboring villages depend on. They built this well a year ago since Brigadier General Muhammed Abdullah Hadiar of the (35) brigade confiscated their water pumps after the civil war of 1994 and developed a military site near the well. Thereafter, brigade forces (33) carried out random attacks on a number of villages that continued throughout the evening using heavy weaponry, artillery shells and machine guns. The last attack targeted the following villages: Ak-Kibar, Al-Jalilah, Ghaoul Saboulah, Zabeed, Al-Rabit, Al-Asslaf.

The shelling killed a number of civilians and damaged several civilian sites, medical sites that belonged to humanitarian organizations, public interests and places of worship. For instance, the house of civilian Yassin Ali Hassan was damaged in the village of Al-Asslaf and his 7-months pregnant wife, Lena Muhammed Ali, and his two three-years-old daughters, Yusra and Yasamine, were killed. The attack also targeted the Nasr Hospital in the city of Al-Dhale which is affiliated with the Dutch Doctors without Borders, where several staff members were wounded. Other sites that were attacked include Abu 'Asheem high school and library, and Al Muhaysin Mosque.

Child Hussam Radwan Muhammed (16 years old) was chased by soldiers while he escaped on his motorcycle. They shot him twice in his legs and his friend, Fadi Ahmed Al-Zawqari (15 years old), was able to succor to Hussam after a bystander intervened and blocked one of the soldiers from pointing his weapon in Fadi's face threatening to kill him. Then, the soldiers burned Hussam's motorcycle. Hussam remains in a critical condition in a hospital in the city of Aden and Fadi is suffering from a psychological trauma.

Additionally, Naseem Al-Zuriqeih, a little girl was hit by an arbitrarily fired shell while she was in a taxi car, traveling from Al-Dhale to Sana'a. Yemeni citizen, Mohammed Ghailan was killed after he was hit by an arbitrarily fired shell as well, while he was talking over the phone, at the a phonebooth center

We would like to notify that this military attack against Al-Dhale city and its villages was carried out after a direct order from the Armored Brigade no. (33), the army leader, brigade Abdullah Thaba'an, while the government turned a blind eye, embodied by the silence of the defence ministry leadership, the presidency and the cabinet.

In fact, brigade Abdullah Thaba'an has stated through media on the 1st of January, and claimed that his soldiers were in self-defence against the Hirak's armed activists, who were -according to him- were planting traps and trying to impose a siege around the army compound in which they hindered tracks of benzil and diesel mobility.

People in Al-Dhale are still suffering from the repeated shelling, periodical gun firing, and the complete lack of water after the army forces took over the water-wells in the city and villages. According to a number of human rights southern activists, the total death toll till today, the 24th of January, is 30 people of killed civilians and more than 70 injured civilians, including women and children.

Children were among the victims of the shelling in Al-Dhale city. 
In addition, there has been more than 1000 internally displaced people, (IDPs) of families who had to leave their destroyed homes, and their threatened villages by the shelling. They escaped to neighbouring villages in the mountains, and neighbouring provinces like Aden, Taiz, who all suffer from lack of food, shelter, and non humanitarian aid by the humanitarian NGOs or the government.

What's happening in Al-Dhale is a violation to the principles of the humanitarian international laws, convected during the four Geneva agreements and its protocols, which prohibit targeting civilians, civilian sites, humanitarian organizations, public interests and places of worship. .

The forces of the Armored Brigade no. (33) and 35 in Al-Dhale didn't respect its obligation to protect civilians, and the necessity to differentiate what's a military target and what's a civilian one during its military operations.

Also, the leadership of the defence ministry and the Yemeni government is responsible for not taking the needed measurement to stop the violence and protect civilians, nonetheless the Yemeni president, Hadi has established an investigative committee headed by the vice of the interior minister, Major General Ali Naser Laghsha'a, in the awake of the deadly events. It seems the government is not conducting the investigation thoroughly and competently.

According to 6 eyewitnesses who told the Human Rights Watch organization, the governmental committee formed by security officers with high profiles never contacted them. Plus, Sah organization for Human Rights, which provides support to the attack's victims and their families, has stated that the investigative committee has only met with the Al-Dhale governor, and the leader of the armed forces at the area. The government has not yet terminated the Brigade Commander (33)'s post until the end of the investigation procedure.

The actions of the military in Ad-Dali' constitute a violation of the most fundamental rights - which are unquestionable - according to the International Law on Human rights, which includes the following: The right to life, the right to security and physical integrity, the prohibition of extrajudicial killings, freedom from arbitrary detention, freedom of movement, the right to choose place of residence and the prohibition of forced displacement, the right to healthcare, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to peaceful assembly (as stated in article 27-6 of the International treaty on Civil and Political Rights) and article (2) of the same treaty on State responsibility in the case of public emergencies and their inalienable rights. As well as the right to receive international aid as stated in article (24) of the International Treaty on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. 

These abuses also constitute a flagrant violation of the UN Security Council's recommendations to the process of a peaceful transfer of power in Yemen (recommendation 2011/2014, & 2012/2051) which explicitly stipulate the responsibility of the Yemeni authorities in investigating human rights violations, prosecuting those who are implicated in these crimes, and bringing justice.

Unfortunately, in light of current internal, regional and international oversight, the continuous abuses committed against southerns limit the possibility of a peaceful solution for the political conflict between the Southern Hirak and the Yemeni government. That being said, it actively obstructs the process of a peaceful power transfer and the creation of a civil state, which the international community is concerned with overseeing its implementation.

On behalf of all Yemenis, we ask you to quickly intervene in order to stop the bloodshed in Ad-Dali', to protect civilians and to provide necessary humanitarian aid, due to the failure of the Yemeni government to do so. We also demand the formation of an independent international commission to investigate the facts and human rights violations taking place in the Ad-Dali' and the prosecution of those involved in them.

Please accept our utmost appreciation,

The Alliance of Revolutionary Forces outside
the National Dialogue Conference

A group of activists, civic and political groups

-Contact List:-

-The Alliance- Sana’a:
Fatima Al Aghbari, Tel: 00967711359598, email:
Yousra Albakri, Tel: 00967734209059

-Resource of Information:
The Contemporary Democratic Forum- Al Dhale’a, Tel: 009672434799, 00967733529263
Haaq Organization for Protection Rights and Freedoms, Tel: 00967777020875-00967735173322-
00967736335427-00967559744, email:

-Victims of Al-Dahle:
Mr. Fahed Hasan Muhsen, Tel: 00967737354181
Mr. Abdughani Hadi Husain, Tel: 00967770923455