Since the takeover by the Houthi group of the capital Sana’a on September 21, 2014, Yemen has witnessed an unprecedented level of violations to basic rights. The most violated right is the right to life where the armed conflict takes the lives of Yemenis by many means and at the hands of all parties involved, with varying degrees of responsibility.
Random killing has been rampant ever since and has reached an unprecedented level. Political accusation was used as a tool in excessive killing by the Houthis in the course of oppressing their political opponents.
The violation of the right to life of civilians continued with an increasing pace and took different forms. They started by oppressing protests and peaceful gatherings by firing live bullets, through mass killings and random shelling over the human gatherings and the residential neighborhoods, and ended with execution and killing by planting landmines or as a result of severe torture in prisons. Almost every day, deaths amongst civilians occur, and their rights and freedoms are violated. Children are affected by the ongoing conflict and deprived from enjoying their innocent childhood.
Many factors contributed to create an environment that violates basic rights in Yemen. One of the main factors is the internal political conflict and the international interventions. In return, it has affected the human rights situation, especially the right to life and the rights of physical and moral safety. This was worsened by the absence of the institutions responsible for enforcing the law, not to mention the increase of armed systematic violence at the expense of the rule of law.
Many parties committed various violations, and at the forefront are the Houthi and Saleh loyalists, who are both described as Inqilabeen (committed a coup). Also responsible are the coalition force led by the Saudis and the governmental forces and the armed Popular Resistance loyal to President Hadi. The AQAP utilized the conflict to reorganize its military structure and enhance its presence in some of the remote areas.
Many Yemeni cities witnessed killings of peaceful protesters with live bullets by Saleh and Houthi forces. These forces had randomly shelled residential neighborhoods causing deaths amongst civilians, particularly in Aden Lahj, Taiz, Baidha, and Ma’rib. They were accused of the excessive use of power against civilians and surrounding neighborhoods, and killing political activists and journalists. They also terminated the lives of the security and army leaders loyal to President Hadi or those who refused to join the war with the Houthi forces.
Not only killing with cold blood, their practices took on another violent level against activists by using them as human shields in military sites and confirmed targets for the coalition strikes led by the Saudi Kingdom. The Houthi and Saleh forces planted on purpose thousands of anti-personnel mines before their withdrawal of some of their controlled areas. The mines are still taking more civilians’ lives in governorates such as Taiz, Ma’rib, Aden, Lahj, and Hajji amongst others.
The air strikes launched by the Arab coalition led by the Saudi Arabia resulted in many civilian deaths and casualties in Sana’a, Hodeida, Sa’adah, Hajjah, Taiz, Ibb, Thamar, and others. The coalition air strikes that target civilians or civilian gatherings violate the rules of engagement and international humanitarian law. Despite the agreement to a ceasefire on many occasions, still the warring parties continued the fight on the ground on more than one front. This has negatively affected the humanitarian situation of civilians, who found themselves trapped in the middle of the hellish fight. It has led to thousands of fatalities, amongst which are children and women. Tens of thousands of inhabitants were forced to flee from their cities while thousands more were forced to flee outside the country.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights declares that it documents cases of fatalities amongst civilians in the armed conflict in Yemen. The total number reached an estimated 3,799 citizens, and 6,711 were injured between March 2015 and August 2016.
Abaad Studies and Research Center and Sanaa Rights Center published a survey report revealing that up to 12,850 civilians were killed between the takeover of the Houthi and Saleh forces on 21 September 2015 until October 2016. Around 34,620 civilians were injured during the territorial expansion of the Houthi militia and Saleh forces, amongst them 2,812 children and 2,269 women in various cities of the country.
The report stated that coup-affiliated forces (Houthi/Saleh) resulted directly in killing 11,500 people, representing 89 per cent of the total number of civilian killings. This number includes 11,244 civilians killed by the Houthi and Saleh forces during their expansion operations: 914 children and 546 women. 256 civilians were killed by the mines planted by the Houthis and Saleh forces, resulting in the injury of more than 335 and most of them became disabled as a result. This all happened in five governorates: Lahj, Aden, Abyan, Dali’, and Ma’rib, during one year between July 2015 to June 2016.
There were other mine victims in other governorates who were not included in this survey report, such as Taiz, Baidha, Hajjah, Amran, because of the lack of precise data.
The airstrikes of the Arab coalition along with army forces loyal to President Hadi resulted in killing approximately 1,350 civilians in various cities in the country, around 11 per cent of the total number of civilian deaths from early 2015 to 2016.
The field reporters of Rights Radar documented a great number of human rights violations during the time of war at many levels and in many governorates, committed by all parties involved in the conflict. The cases published in this report are some samples and do not represent an inclusive report of all violations committed in the country.