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Response to UNSEY Briefing

Office of Martin Griffiths Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen Dear Sirs

We, the International Campaign to Release Prisoners in Yemen, have viewed with great disappointment the briefing of Mr.

Martin Griffiths, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, to the Security Council, on 16 March 2020, on the situation in Yemen and the responses to the call made by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to stop hostilities in Yemen and deterioration of the humanitarian situation, amidst fears of Corona virus spread and risks of collapsing health situation.

The briefing, which referred to the welcome declared by the Yemeni government and the Houthis to the Secretary-General’s initiative, and commended the local support for this call at all official and unofficial levels, was insufficient, biased, and unprofessional, where it has ignored fundamental facts related to the real positions and field practices that accompanied the declared welcome of the Secretary General’s call for ceasefire.

The Special Envoy’s briefing clearly ignored any reference to the continued hostilities of the Houthis group and its attacks against civilians in many governorates, and the firing of missiles after declaring a ceasefire until the date of the briefing. Also, Houthis forces continued to launch military attacks on Taiz fronts and the artillery shelling continued in Taiz and Marib, the mobilization and military operations did not stop at various fronts, while the Yemeni government forces committed to its declared position of ceasefire.

We, at the civil society consider this as a serious violation by the Houthis group of its stated position on the ceasefire that was supposed to be clearly mentioned in the envoy’s briefing that ignored many of the other facts affecting the military and humanitarian situation in Yemen, and cast doubts on the briefing, which turned it into, more like, a briefing by Houthis leader’s envoy to the security Council.

Given the humanitarian implications of the call to end hostilities, the briefing ignored reporting on incidents, violations and shocking crimes that occurred during the period covered by the UN envoy’s brief and did not refer to them, despite its gravity, such as the Houthis death sentence against four journalists, which are political orders, not judicial rulings, to kill journalists, as it has been passed on by a court lacking jurisdiction and financially and administratively affiliated with the Houthis Political Council, and has previously passed on death sentences to more than 170 journalists,parliamentarians, political and civil activists adversaries to Houthis group, including women.

The envoy also ignored in his briefing the continued detention of the Houthis group of the Baha’i community members and the failure to release them until now, despite the issuance of a political amnesty decision from the leadership of the Houthis group on the date of March 26, which is another evidence of the Houthis non-serious
positions, intended to misleading international public opinion and preventing firm stances against its practices.

The briefing has also ignored the necessary preparatory measures for the peace process, including a set of urgent humanitarian measures of priority, and it was limited to highlight the demands of the Houthis group, such as operating of Hodiedah port and reopening Sana’a airport, which are the same demands adopted by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General apart from many others.

Mr. Griffiths, has ignored the siege on Taiz and failed to call to end it, as one of the priorities in the humanitarian profile in Yemen since Stockholm Agreement, and one of the most important preliminary steps to the peace and confidence building process. Such biased stand is clear evidence of the imbalance of standards with the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General.

The briefing also addressed Houthis’ bombing of women prisoners in Taiz with a shocking soft wording, that mitigates the legal consequences on Houthis, and undermines the required investigation and punishment on the perpetrators of this, and many other systematic and ongoing Houthis crimes against civilians and civilian objects.

We, the International Campaign to Release Prisoners in Yemen, would like to express our utmost dissatisfaction to the recent briefing of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen dated 16 April 2020, at the security Council, and request him to play his role in accordance with his mandate as specified in the resolution of his assignment and represent and reflect the true sufferings and demands of all Yemeni civilians, without
any political inclination, prejudice or bias.

The International Campaign to Release Prisoners in Yemen

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