Sana’a (GPA) – Over the past month, UN advisors, NGOs, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have all stressed the need to establish an inquiry into the daily human rights violations in Yemen. Meanwhile just hours ago, Saudi Arabia appears to have kidnapped a child who was recently the only remaining survivor of a Saudi airstrike.
In August, sixty-seven non-governmental organizations led by Human Rights Watch began demanding the United Nations Human Rights Council establish an independent body to investigate the sweeping human rights violations carried out in Yemen on a daily basis.
Torture, Air Strikes, and Never Ending War Crimes
Saudi Arabia and their allies with the backing of the United States have bombed Yemen for the past 900+ days. Official numbers from Human Rights Watch put the total at about 5,000, but local Yemeni groups estimate the number to be closer to 13,000. They indiscriminately bomb civilian areas with undefined targets which leads observers to conclude that the civilian targets are, in fact, intentional.
The Saudi coalition is also guilty of repeatedly using internationally banned cluster bombs as well as possible white phosphorous on civilian areas.
The United Arab Emirates with the backing of the United States is also guilty of operating at least eighteen secret blacksite prisons inside Yemen with the supposed purpose of detaining al-Qaeda militants. Inmates were subjected to extreme torture which further implicates the United States and their western allies in these war crimes.
This figure still only reflects those killed from airstrikes and direct military action. It does not include the number of civilians who have died as a result of the ongoing siege and blockade which restricts land, air and sea access to Yemen.
Yemen imports nearly 80% of food, so the siege has put nearly 7 million people at risk of famine. Restricted imports also means dwindling access to basic goods such as medical supplies and cleaning products. This has triggered a globally unprecedented cholera outbreak. Over 700,000 will likely become infected with the deadly — yet treatable and preventable — disease by the end of the year.
Call for an Independent Investigation
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, went on to support the NGOs’ statement saying that “the international community…has a legal and moral duty to take urgent steps to alleviate the appalling levels of human despair.”
United Nations advisers also support the call for an independent probe.
Weeks later, Saudi Arabia rebuffed the calls for an independent international inquiry stating that the “timing” was bad due to “tremendous obstacles.” It’s hard to imagine what the Saudis meant by that considering they have imposed the siege and media blackout themselves.
Ironically enough, days later at the United Nations General Assembly, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Ahmed Al-Jubeir spoke condemning the crisis in Myanmar calling it a “human tragedy” running counter to human rights.
Saudis Kidnap Child Icon
Weeks ago, the young girl Buthaina made headlines as the sole survivor of a Saudi-coalition air strike. The bomb dropped on her home was manufactured in the United States.
Her entire family died and she was left in the care of her uncle after recovering. Her photo sparked a social media campaign drawing international attention to the Saudi war crimes in Yemen.
This brought rare coverage from mainstream outlets. For once, the world’s eyes were drawn to the Saudi war crimes Yemenis face on a daily basis. Buthaina represented thousands of Yemeni children suffering the same fate.
Last night, Buthaina mysteriously appeared in Saudi custody. As if this story couldn’t get any more ridiculous, in the Saudi version, Buthaina’s family was supposedly killed by Yemen’s resistance.
According to her uncle, their family was kidnapped in Aden and forced to travel to Riyadh.
He appeared later on Facebook asking for help and begging to go home. He said Saudi authorities offered him money which he refused.
It is unclear at this point exactly what happened or why. However, it appears that the Saudis wanted to exploit Buthaina somehow. Perhaps with their own version of Omran: the little boy who made headlines last year as the west increased their devastating “humanitarian” war against Syria.
For years, the United Nations has remained silent to the U.S.-supported Saudi war crimes carried out in Yemen. Saudi Arabia does have a seat at the UN Human Rights Council, after all. How can a body with a war criminal on their board actually investigate their own war crimes?
Now, however, more voices are speaking up. The Saudis’ kidnapping of Buthaina shows just how desperate they’ve become as they continue to lose the war on the ground while resorting to devastating air strikes.
The reports from Human Rights Watch and others continue to echo the disturbing words of Donald Trump when he referred to the violence in Charlottesville “on both sides.” Most of these organizations seem to forget that one entity is carrying out an occupation with an air force and the military backing of the wealthiest country in the world while the other side is defending itself.
Also published on Medium.