Two YouTube activists prosecuted by Houthis for critical videos
Due to the upcoming trials of two Yemenis who were detained by the Houthis after uploading critical YouTube videos, rights organisations have accused the militia of intimidating dissidents through the use of the legal system.
Last month, after calling the Houthis “thieves and robbers,” naming specific officials they claimed were dishonest, and criticising taxation levels, Mustafa Al-Mumari and Ahmed Hajar were detained. They are accused by the Houthis of encouraging violence, disseminating rumours, and defaming political figures.
Ahmed Elaw and Hamoud Al-Mesbahi, two other people detained at the same time, were released on bail, according to Abdul Majeed Sabra, a defence attorney in Sanaa.
Elaw was imprisoned after appearing in a video urging the Houthis to fight corruption and expressing sympathy for captives. At the time of his detention, Al-Mumari was alongside Al-Mesbahi.
All four showed up to the Houthi-run Specialized Criminal Court of First Instance in Sanaa after previously supporting the movement on social media. According to official Houthi media, everyone expressed regret and swore never to act in the same way again.
However, rights groups have accused the militia of persecuting supporters of free speech and using the courts to settle scores with opponents in response to the militia’s crackdown on YouTubers and social media users.
Since the Houthis took control in late 2014, the SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties, based in Geneva, reported an increase in human rights crimes and kidnappings. To support the killing of their rivals and the seizure of their property, the militia established political courts.
SAM stated on Twitter that the Ansar Allah (Houthi) organisation in Yemen had established political tribunals and opened prisons after engaging in severe human rights violations against individuals it viewed as its rivals.