On April 5th, the Houthi militia launched a continuous shelling of the densely populated city of Taiz. This time, shells were fired at the central prison building in Taiz, southwest of Yemen. The shelling killed seven women and wounded 28 others. The shelling followed a prisoner release campaign in Yemen, cosigned by the Center for Yemeni Studies in Washington, DC. The campaign succeeded in releasing some prisoners, however this hideous massacre was committed by the Houthis shortly after, disregarding fundamental humanitarian principles of international humanitarian law, namely, the principles of distinction, proportionality, and taking preventive measures to protect civilians.
This crime is an extension of the series of crimes committed by the Houthi militia against the Yemeni people, particularly in the city of Taiz. Thousands of their crimes have been documented since the war in Yemen started, many of which targeted civilian homes, hospitals, schools, markets, prisons and residential neighborhoods.
The Washington Center for Yemeni Studies condemns and denounces this heinous crime against humanity, holds the Houthis and their predecessors responsible for this crime, and demands immediate investigation and criminal accountability of Houthi leaders and all those found to be involved in these crimes.
We demand the immediate release of all prisoners, with no exception and regardless of any justifications, in light of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In their current state, Yemeni prisons are a ticking time bomb that could lead to the wide spread of the COVID-19 virus in Yemen.
The Center also renews its appeal to the international community, human rights and humanitarian organizations, and all the honorable and free people of the world to assume their moral and humanitarian responsibility in championing the oppressed Yemeni people by condemning the horrific crimes committed by the Houthis. We also call to pressure the Security Council to carry out their legal and moral duties of protecting civilians and demand the release of prisoners as they lack resources for basic hygiene and medical attention, to the point that many patients die in prison because their treatment is prohibited.
We also reinforce our call for the formation of an international commission of inquiry to investigate this crime and all crimes committed against the people of Yemen.
Issued by the Washington Center for Yemeni Studies