Human rights officials and activists in Yemen have condemned a Houthi attack on a female teacher who criticized the group for not paying her salary for months, and their ban on recently printed banknotes.
Yemen’s Minister of Human Rights Mohammed Asker told Arab News on Thursday that the Houthis had violated social and tribal norms that gave women protection from attacks.
“This is a condemned and immoral act that violated all Yemeni norms,” Asker said, vowing to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Ebtesam Abu Donia had recently posted a video on social media, criticizing Houthi economic reforms, including the confiscation of recently printed banknotes and their failure to pay government salaries in areas under their control.
“The relocation of the central bank is not our business. You thieves should pay our salaries or go back to Saada,” she said. “I want my salary. I want to eat.”
Armed Houthis stormed her house in Sana’a, beat her, terrified her children and confiscated several possessions after the video went viral. After the attack, she posted on social media, saying a relative loyal to the militia attacked her, her children and a brother who rushed to protect her.
“I would like to thank those who reacted to the raid on my house. A (Houthi) gang led by Waleed Abu Donia attacked me and my children and snatched my mobiles and ipad,” she said on a post on Facebook on Tuesday, adding that attack’s leader was a Houthi military leader in the northern province of Hajja.
Abu Donia said the Houthis had pressured her to give them the passwords to her devices. The post has received hundreds of likes, with Yemeni writers and activists expressing their support and sympathy, blasting the group for the attack.
Public dissatisfaction with Houthi policies has increased over the last couple of months, after the rebels moved to confiscated banknotes issued by the central bank in Yemen. The move created a severe cash shortage, leading to a large drop in the Yemeni riyal against the US dollar.
Despite generating millions of dollars annually from banks, oil imports and telecom companies, the rebels have refused to pay government employees in areas under their control, blaming the internationally recognized government for moving the central bank to Aden.
Since taking power in late 2014, the Houthis have suppressed protests and jailed activists who criticize them, forcing hundreds to flee to government-controlled territories or leave the country.
Dozens of newspapers, TV channels, radio stations and news sites have been blocked, and only those media outlets that support the Houthi movement are allowed to work in Sana’a and other areas.
On Thursday, a local nongovernmental organization (NGO) documenting human right violations in the region said thousands of Yemenis had been kidnapped and forcibly disappeared by the rebels in 2019.
Yemen Monitor for Freedom and Rights said in a statement it recorded 12,636 kidnappings and forcible disappearance cases committed by the Houthis in the past 12 months.
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