Foreign Policy Blogs

Human Rights Group: Mass Grave Found in Yemeni Capital

The Following piece is written by a Yemeni-based journalist who writes for the Foreign Policy Blogs network and, due to serious security concerns, remains anonymous.

HOOD (National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms) is the most prominent and most quoted human rights organization in Yemen.

HOOD has been known in recent years for blowing the whistle on many of the regime’s infractions of human hights and international law. But if most of its claims fell on deaf ears in the past, the organization’s new allegations are too grave to be ignored or swept under the rug.

At its last public conference, HOOD revealed alongside other violations of human rights, that a mass grave has been unearthed in one of the suburb of the capital, Sana’a. The regime immediately reacted to the claim by threatening the organization’s members of “serious” reprisals. According to some members of the organization, their email accounts and phone numbers were later hacked into and deactivated.

Mass Grave in Sana’a

Photo of alleged mass grave, provided by HOOD

Abdel-Rahman Burman, HOOD’s spokesman revealed that a mass grave had been discovered in Beit Buss area, one of the capital’s poorest suburbs. According to his statement, body parts were found discarded in rubbish bags buried in an abandoned field.

This discovery comes amidst the disappearance on last Wednesday of 100 injured protesters from a hospital. Witnesses recalled that security forces personnel abducted the men, forcing them into unmarked vehicles.

Another gruesome discovery was made in the same area of Beit Buss when the bodies of 3 men who had been thrown in a well were discovered.

Burman said that according to the medical examiner, as many as 50 men could have been executed and then buried in the grave. So far the medical team was unable to identify the bodies.

The government denies all wrong doing so far, declaring that it had no knowledge of the situation and that it did not wish to elaborate on the matter at this point in time.

However, we were able to hear from several senior officerswithin the Interior Ministry and the Security Forces on the matter, who for obvious reasons they wished to remain under the cover of anonymity. Although none of the men we interviewed took part in the killing of the men found, they said that they were not in the least surprised.

They claim that the president and his son Ahmed had ordered them on many occasions to kill the protesters and to use all possible measures against them to break the revolution. “President Saleh does not want to relinquish his power and he will stop at nothing. He called the protesters animals and filth”, one officer said.

Government Campaign to Hide its Murders

Our sources said that the Republican Guards and the Security Forces had received clear orders from the government to conceal evidences of the death of civilians. This concealment campaign is believed to have been triggered by the president, following pressure from the United Nations to halt the crackdown.

The High Commission for Human Rights has asked President Saleh to authorize a fact-finding mission to enter Yemen and investigate allegations of international laws violations.

In other instances, the government has tried to exert pressure upon the families of the deceased to not claim the body.

“The authorities are currently attempting to contact families of the killed and persuade them to waive the killings of their relatives in return for cash compensations” our source said.

Protesters also claim that the government is systematically trying to prevent people from being treated at the hospital as they have positioned men in unmarked vehicles at the entrances. For that reason, most injured are asking to be transferred to the field hospital in change Square where they feel safe.

“I once tried to take a wounded man to the hospital, and suddenly a taxi was parked in front of me. The driver got out and helped me to put the wounded on the car, but he quickly gets inside the car and with high speed escaped,” one eye witness said.

To this day, dozens of men are still reported missing by their families, hostage of the regime they were rising up against.