Yemen’s Houthi rebels have arrested a prominent activist who used social media to document the war that has ravaged his country.
On August 12, Hisham al-Omeisy tweeted to his 23,700 followers: “Armed goons backed by corrupt officials are forcefully taking real estate in Sanaa. They just showed up at my door.”
He has not been seen on Twitter since.
The 38-year-old father of two was reportedly captured on Monday in the capital, Sanaa, by more than a dozen armed security officers from the National Security Bureau, rights group Amnesty said on Friday.
“Hisham al-Omeisy has been detained without charge or a court appearance in breach of Yemen’s constitution, which requires anybody arrested to be presented in court within 24 hours,” said Samah Hadid, director of campaigns for Amnesty International in the Middle-East.
“This detention illustrates the lengths to which local Houthi-Saleh authorities’ are willing to go to silence peaceful activists. Hisham al-Omeisy is a prisoner of conscience, whose only ‘crime’ is peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, and he must be released immediately.” Hadid said in a statement.
Investigative journalist Iona Craig wrote on Twitter: “Hisham is not only a friend but an essential voice for Yemenis. We are all deeply concerned for his wellbeing.”
Craig explained that many of his friends had earlier kept quiet about Omeisy’s detention at his family’s request.
Osamah Al-Rawhani, programme director at Sanaa Centre, a Yemen-based think tank, tweeted: “Let’s raise hell for the release of @omeisy .. Houthis must stop their violations against human rights and freedoms.”
Jeremy Schahill, a journalist, said Omeisy “regularly live tweets US-backed Saudi bombings and is also critical of Houthi forces as well. Now he has been kidnapped”.
Yemen, which is on the southern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, has been engulfed in civil war since September 2014, when Houthi Shia rebels swept into the capital and overthrew President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s internationally recognised government.