The Houthi militia carries out all sorts of terrorist acts against Yemenis. Whoever objects to the militia’s crimes and violations is arrested and perhaps executed, as the Houthis have done since they took control of the Yemeni capital Sanaa in 2015. The Houthis have launched hundreds of arrest and execution campaigns against journalists and media workers. Most recently, on April 19, the militia abducted former Yemeni Minister of Culture Khaled al-Rowaishan from his home in Sanaa and took him to an unknown location, according to the victim’s son, Waddah al- Rowaishan.
Waddah confirmed the news of his father’s kidnapping in a post on his Facebook page, announcing that the Houthis had arrested his father, without mentioning any other details. Many Yemenis interacted with his post, declaring their solidarity with the former minister and denouncing the Houthis’ crimes against the Yemeni people. However, those affiliated with the Houthis supported their decision to arrest Rowaishan, claiming that he was a traitor due to his writings and critical opinions rejecting the Iranian-backed militia’s crimes in Yemen.
The former culture minister was known for his writings and political views against the Houthi coup and their sectarian project. Rowaishan had directed bold criticism at the militia since the first day of the Houthi coup. The last thing he wrote was an article entitled “Orphaned Sanaa Drowns”, in which he addressed the miserable situation in Sanaa due to the Houthis’ crimes against the poor and all Yemenis after the militia took control of their salaries.
Residents in the Bayt Baws district of Sanaa indicated that the terrorist militia had barbarically kidnapped Rowaishan, as they were surprised by the presence of dozens of Houthis armed with various weapons in front of the former minister’s house. They added the militia looted Rowaishan’s personal belongings, including his mobile phone and laptop, and then they kidnapped him and took him to an unknown location.
Tens of thousands of Yemenis have been detained in the Houthis’ prisons, which prompted international human rights organizations to demand the Houthis release these people in order to avoid the spread of the corona virus.
Yemeni rejection and international appeal
In this context, Yemeni Minister of Information Moammar al-Eryani denounced the Houthis’ brutal kidnapping of Rowaishan, which reflects the extent of the militia’s degradation and denunciation of all human values and ethics. Eryani pointed out that Rowaishan’s detainment is an extension of thousands of arrests of political and social personalities, media figures, journalists, and activists, adding that it reflects the criminal mentality of the Houthi militia and its rejection of any dissenting voices against its practices and the degraded human rights situation in the areas it controls.
Eryani called on the international community to intervene and condemn this crime that reveals the militia’s true position regarding peace and its pursuit of political and military escalation in response to the calls and efforts to calm down and implement confidence-building steps, foremost of which is the release of all those detained in Houthi prisons.
Meanwhile, Yemeni activists also denounced the arrest of the former culture minister, launching a Twitter campaign named “We are all Khaled al-Rowaishan”, in which they declared their full solidarity with him and their standing together with one hand against the Houthis’ crimes, pointing out that the militia is arresting those who defend the Yemeni people.
Some activists indicated that the Houthis arrested Rowaishan at this particular time because of a poem he published on his Facebook page by the Yemeni poet Amer al-Saidi, which contained verses against the enemy Hashemite dynasty in an attempt to break the false aura of holiness over the dishonorable enemy and to revitalize Yemeni nationalism. The Houthis do not want this and therefore immediately arrested the former minister.
The Yemenis stressed the need to escalate the Rowaishan issue to the international community in order for him to be released, because the Houthis are working to direct a package of charges against the former minister until he has been imprisoned for many years and does not threaten them again in his writings.