On Monday, two prominent human rights advocates, Radhya Almutawakel and Abdulrasheed Alfaqih, the founders of the NGO Mwatana for Human Rights, were detained at Seyoun airport by Saudi-led Coalition forces. They were traveling to participate in an event at the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue in Oslo.
Almutawakel and Alfaqih’s organization has conducted some of the most important independent reporting about abuses in Yemen, raising awareness about harms by all sides to the conflict. They have also authored numerous posts on Just Security, including about a letter Mwatana sent to U.S. business leaders regarding Saudi abuses, the need for an international inquiry into abuses in Yemen, and about flaws in U.S. investigation processes. They have been outspoken advocates for accountability, and have appeared frequently in the press (for example, the Guardian and Democracy Now!). In 2017, Almutawakel was invited to address the UN Security Council, where she briefed states on the war in Yemen and the civilian impacts. They were both awarded the Global Advocate Award at Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute, and were practitioners-in-residence there last year.
They should be immediately released, and permitted to travel to Oslo. Just Security readers in the U.S. and other governments can help secure their release by requesting that UAE and Saudi forces let them go.
We will provide updates here on the situation.
UPDATE: Radhya Almutawakel and Abdulrasheed Alfaqih have been released from custody.
— Mwatana for Human Rights (@mwatanaen) June 18, 2018