UAE secret prisons and torture for terrorists in Yemen with US complicity
A report by AP reveals that extremists and al Qaida members were subjected to violence in the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, including sexual abuse and blindfolds for weeks. Senior US officers played a role in interrogations. The UAE rejects the charges and the United States downplays its role. Human rights groups report the disappearance of scores of people.
Sana'a (AsiaNews) – The Associated Press reported today that US forces were involved in the interrogation of detainees held in secret prisons in Yemen where torture is widespread. The centres are run by United Arab Emirati (UAE) and UAE-backed Yemeni forces.
The details that are emerging from prisoners are horrifying. Witnesses say that prisoners were “crammed into shipping containers smeared with faeces and blindfolded for weeks,” beaten, and trussed up on a “grill” – a spit like a roast to which the victim is tied and spun in a circle of fire, the article says.
Prisoners were also sexually assaulted, and some prisoners were allegedly transferred to a ship where US “polygraph experts” and “psychological experts” conducted interrogations.
Witnesses on condition of anonymity said that hundreds of men swept up in the hunt for al-Qaida militants have disappeared into a secret network of prisons in southern Yemen where abuse is routine and torture extreme. These facilities are inside military bases, ports, an airport, private villas and even a nightclub.
Other sources say that nearly 2,000 men have disappeared into the clandestine prisons, triggering protests among families seeking their release, in vane so far.
The Emiratis have rejected the accusations. However, several US defence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that American forces do participate in interrogations of detainees, provide questions for others to ask, and receive transcripts of interrogations from their Emirati allies.
They say US senior military leaders were aware of allegations of torture at the prisons in Yemen, looked into them, but were satisfied that there had not been any abuse when US forces were present.
Human rights groups have rejected US claims, saying that they are an attempt to whitewash the allegations and downplay US responsibility.
Human Rights Watch, journalists, and other groups have extensively documented torture and enforced disappearances. A report was just released on the detention and forced disappearance of 49 people – including four children – in Yemen.
The network of prisons echoes the secret detention facilities set up by the CIA to interrogate terrorism suspects in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, which was eventually uncovered by human rights groups.
In 2009, then-President Barack Obama disbanded the so-called "black sites"; however, the UAE network in war-torn Yemen was set up during the Obama administration and continues operating to this day.
Civil war broke out Yemen in January 2015, pitting Sunni former President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who is backed by Saudi Arabia, against Houthi Shia rebels, who are close to Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
In March 2015, a Saudi-led Arab coalition began carrying out air strikes against the rebels killing civilians, including children. The UN, which has criticised the intervention, has said that 8,000 people have been killed and 45,000 wounded so far.