Mwatana team was Prevented From Traveling Through Sanaa Airport

An Incident from the Dark Record of Undermining the Freedom of Movement by the Ansar Allah (Houthi) Group and Other Parties

Saturday, September 30, 2023
Mwatana team was Prevented From Traveling Through Sanaa Airport

Mwatana for Human Rights reported that the Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group prevented the Chairperson of the organization, Radhya Al-Mutawakel, her Vice, Abdul-Rashid Al-Faqih, and three members of the organization's team from traveling through Sana'a International Airport on Saturday morning , September 30th, without providing a legal justification.

Mwatana stated that the incident of preventing their team from traveling through Sana'a International Airport, which has been partially open since April 2022, is just one episode in a long series of violations committed by the Ansar Allah (Houthi) group, infringing upon the freedom of movement through Sana'a International Airport and the land routes connecting various regions of Yemen.

The organization added that security individuals affiliated with the Ansar Allah (Houthi) group presented themselves using pseudonyms and refused to disclose their affiliations. They summoned Radhya Al-Mutawakel, her Vice, and the organization's team for individual interrogations, informing them of the travel ban according to “higher orders”. They also returned the luggage that had been shipped into the airplane and canceled departure visas for two members of the organization's team before they boarded the plane.

Radhya Al-Mutawakel, the Chairperson of Mwatana, said, "Freedom of movement is a fundamental right guaranteed to every citizen according to the Yemen constitution, laws, and regulations, as well as international conventions. Deprivation of this right is a crime punishable by law." She added, "We will not abandon our right to freedom of movement, nor will we give up on holding those responsible for the crime of denying this right accountable under any circumstances."

The organization emphasized that hundreds of Yemeni men and women are forced to travel for long hours to reach Aden and Seiyun International Airports, enduring hardship and risks to avoid arbitrary restrictions imposed by the Ansar Allah (Houthi) group, which undermine the freedom of movement, including the freedom to travel abroad, in violation of the Yemeni constitution, laws, and applicable regulations.

The organization restated its call for the full reopening of Sana'a International Airport and the reopening of all Yemeni airports that are currently partially operating., as well as the removal of all restrictions imposed on Yemeni airports by the Saudi/UAE-led coalition. They also called on the Ansar Allah (Houthi) group to lift all arbitrary restrictions on the travel of Yemeni men and women through Sana'a Airport and its checkpoints along the highways linking the governorates. This includes the eastern and northern roads leading to Taiz city, which have been closed since 2015.

In its press release, Mwatana pointed out that the incident of preventing their team from traveling through Sana'a Airport is part of a broader campaign targeting the organization, its management, and its team. This campaign includes the arbitrary detention of Radhya Al-Mutawakel, the Chairperson of Mwatana for Human Rights, and her Vice Abdul-Rashid Al-Faqih by the Saudi/UAE-led coalition at Seiyun Airport in eastern Yemen on June 18, 2018.  Al-Faqih was also detained by the forces of internationally recognized government and Islah Party at Al-Fulj checkpoint in Marib on June 14, 2018, while he was on his way to travel through Seiyun Airport with the organization's Chairperson. He had previously been arbitrarily detained and interrogated at Sana'a International Airport on March 4, 2017, by the Ansar Allah (Houthi) group that seized his passport and prevented him from traveling after returning from the international conference in Amman, Jordan, organized by the International Federation of Journalists, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, and attended by several international organizations.

Mwatana had previously documented arbitrary restrictions imposed by Houthi Ansar Allah checkpoints along the land routes between Yemeni governorates, targeting the movement of women in particular, in addition to a range of violations aimed at restricting the presence of women in public spaces.

Mwatana reaffirmed its strong position against violations by all parties against the freedom of movement, whether through partially open Yemeni airports or land routes connecting Yemeni governorates. This includes arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, travel bans, mistreatment, extortion, intimidation, and discrimination based on regional, local, ethnic, gender, or any other basis.

The organization called on the international community engaged in efforts to stop the war to compel the Ansar Allah (Houthi) group, the Southern Transitional Council, formations of the Islah Party, and the Saudi/UAE-led coalition, as well as all formations and groups, to provide guarantees ensuring freedom of movement through airports and roads for all Yemeni men and women, including journalists, human rights defenders, and workers in national civil society organizations, as well as international humanitarian organizations.

For further information regarding the warring parties’ violations on freedom of movement:

  • Yemen: How The War Lengthened Our Journeys (File)

  •  Saudi-led Coalition’s Closure of Ports Cuts the Remaining Life Artery (Press Release) 

  • Two options for patients: dying on their beds or on the way to Seiyun or Aden (Blog)

  • Bab al-Falaj Checkpoint... When your Surname Is a Crime (Blog):