U.S., U.N., EU Denounce Houthis for Executing Nine In Yemen

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

In separate statements issued on Sunday and Monday, the United States, United Nations, and European Union denounced the Iran-backed Houthi insurgents of Yemen for brutally executing nine men accused of helping Saudi coalition forces target Houthi leader Saleh al-Samad with an airstrike in 2018.

The nine executed men were arrested soon after an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition, which has been intervening against the Houthi insurgency since 2015, struck the city of Hodeidah and killed Samad plus six other people. One of the nine slain detainees was a minor when he was arrested.

The nine were convicted of spying and passing sensitive information to the Saudis in a trial that was not regarded as fair or humane by any outside observers. The office of U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres called them “judicial proceedings that do not appear to have fulfilled the requirements of fair trial and due process under international law” when he condemned the executions on Monday.

Over 60 people were accused of helping to kill Samad by the Houthis. Several foreign leaders, including former U.S. President Donald Trump, were “convicted” by Houthi courts in absentia.

The nine defendants, clad in blue prison garb, were dragged into public square on Saturday, made to lie on their stomachs, and shot in the back. Photos and videos of the execution were shared on social media.

“Hundreds of people, mostly Houthis and their supporters, attended Saturday’s execution in Tahrir Square in the rebel-held capital of Sanaa and danced in the streets after the deaths,” the UK Daily Mail reported.

The U.S. denounced the executions as “outrageous,” accusing the Houthis of killing the prisoners “after a sham trial following years of torture and abuse.” 

“This outrageous action is another example of the Houthi indifference to basic human rights and follows only days after their attack on the commercial port of Mokha, an essential transit point for humanitarian supplies and commercial food imports. This barbarism must end,” said Cathy Westley, charge d’affairs for the U.S. embassy to Yemen, on Sunday.

The British government said the “brutal” executions demonstrated “indifference to human dignity and blatant disregard for fair trial and due process.” 

The European Union cited “reports of irregularities in the judicial process, and allegations of mistreatment” in condemning the killings on Monday.

“The European Union strongly opposes the death penalty at all times and in all circumstances. It is a cruel and inhumane punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent to crime and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity,” the EU statement said.

President Joe Biden revoked the Houthis’ designation as terrorists soon after he took office. The Biden administration has been declaring itself “alarmed” by the Houthis’ savage behavior and “beyond fed up” ever since. 

Unperturbed by these criticisms, the Houthis have resumed their offensive against the U.N.-backed legitimate government of Yemen. The insurgents reported significant battlefield gains in oil-rich districts on Tuesday, the seventh anniversary of their capture of the capital city, Sanaa.

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