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Amnesty International Report Cites US Role in Yemen Prisoner Abuse

A new report from Amnesty International called “God only knows if he’s alive” confirmed and detailed prison abuses in Yemen carried out by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a U.S. backed alley. In 2017 the Associated Press identified eighteen secret prisons in Yemen that employ torture, and the new Amnesty report reveals that the prisons are operated by the UAE in collaboration with local Yemeni forces.

The report challenges the U.S. role in Yemen as UAE forces rely on political and logistical support from the U.S. A report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute found that the U.S. is the largest arms supplier to the UAE, providing 63 percent of all major weaponry delivered to the nation since 2009. The Stockholm report further detailed the U.S.’ extensive role in the UAE military.

“We documented torture and ill-treatment at the hands of both the UAE troops, as well as the local Yemeni forces they back,” said Rawya Rageh of Amnesty International. “The forms of torture that we documented included electric shocks, waterboarding, denial of timely medical treatment, sexual violence.”

Rageh said the Amnesty report was not meant to excuse the actions of the Houthi rebels as Houthi soldiers have also tortured and abused Yemeni citizens since 2014, according to Human Rights Watch.

What this report looks at specifically are the violations that came into existence after the involvement of UAE troops and the creation of the forces that they back,” said Rageh.

Condemning US Role in Yemen

Humanitarian organizations and some government officials in Washington DC have criticized the U.S. support of Saudi Arabia and the UAE in Yemen. The new Amnesty report ramps up criticism.

One of the most vocal critics to condemn the US’ role in Yemen is U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Since 2015, he has been campaigning to reduce the involvement of the U.S. in the Yemen War. He warned that supporting Saudi and UAE efforts in Yemen is akin to being directly involved in the war as well.

“Everything that is going on inside Yemen is not seen as just the Saudis and Emiratis acting upon the Yemeni people,” he said. “The United States is seen as a vital member of that coalition. And so everything that the Emiratis are doing inside these prisons ultimately gets tied back to the United States.”

“The news now of the torture happening in these prisons is, frankly, just going to further radicalize the Yemeni people,” added Murphy. He also warned the prisoner abuse will create resentment among Yemenis “against a coalition government that may eventually be formed — and against the United States.”

UAE government authorities responded to the Amnesty report, which took four months and ultimately verified previous AP reports, by criticizing it and denouncing its legitimacy. They stated, “The UAE believes that these reports are politically motivated to undermine its efforts as part of the Arab Coalition to support the Yemeni Government.”

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