Five years have passed by while 236 civilians are being forcibly disappeared, 90 of whom have been disappeared since 2015. Those civilians were abducted from their homes, workplaces, and streets, and have been held at prions and detention centres for no lawful justification. Their fate and medical conditions are still unknown until this day.
During forced disappearance periods, victims’ right of contacting their families or anyone outside prison is not the violated right. They are brutally tortured and inhumanely mistreated. 81 forcibly disappeared individuals have died as a result of such cruel torture and their families could only see them as dead bodies. Victims have been repeatedly detained at targeted buildings and areas, placing their lives at great risk as dozens of forcibly disappeared abductees have been killed during bombings, where families were either devastated to see their relatives’ names on the dead lists, or got more worried and scared for the disappeared ones.
While many abductees and detainees, held at official prisons, have been infected with COVID-19, the medical conditions of the forcibly disappeared persons are still unknown. Rehab, a daughter of a forcibly disappeared individual, said “I am really scared. My mother, siblings, grandfather, and the whole family is worried that my father might be infected with Corona Virus. He is sick and has been suffering from diabetes and hypertension. Dad, are you okay? Do you take your medications? Are they properly taking care of you?”
The psychological effects of forced disappearance linger as many victims tend to isolate themselves, and feel claustrophobic, serious fear, and helplessness. Sameer, an alias name, said “I can no longer live like normal people. I have sleeping disorder now. I am always in constant fear for my family. They used to threaten me with my children and family in my detention.”
International conventions and agreements criminalize forced disappearance. Article 1 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance states that “No one shall be subjected to enforced disappearance. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance.”
On the International Day of the Disappeared, we, Abductees’ Mothers Association, rally here, by the OHCHR to make the voice of the disappeared heard. We call upon the United Nations and its Special Envoy to step up the pressure on the violating parties, Houthi armed group, Southern Transitional Council, and the government, to uncover the fate of the forcibly disappeared persons. Many of them have been included in the exchange lists, so why not grant them the right to contact and see their families?
We call upon the Security Council to take deterrent actions to punish the perpetrators of forced disappearance. We, finally, demand the UN agencies and human rights organizations to provide the necessary support for the victims of forced disappearance and their families.
Issued by Abductees’ Mothers Association, Sana’a
August 30th, 2020