After languishing in jail for almost two years without being charged, 22 young Yemeni men went on hunger strike on May 24, 2013 to build pressure for their government to release them. Youth activists in capital city Sanaa soon joined them in solidarity. On June 6, 17 of those imprisoned were released.
The detained youth were captured in December 2011, during the uprising against ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011. But their whereabouts were unknown for eight months. In August 2012, they surfaced in the Political Security Organization prison in the capital Sanaa and were later transferred to Sanaa Central Prison.
Yemeni tweeps launched a hashtag in English #FreedetainedRevyouth and in Arabic #الحرية_لمعتقلي_الثورة
. The Arabic hashtag translates to Freedom to the Detainees of the Revolution.
Atiaf Alwazir tweeted:
@WomanfromYemen: In #Yemen, while opposition parties got to power b/c of the revolution, some revolutionary #youth remain in prison #FreeDetainedRevYouth
Marwan Almuraisy wrote:
@almuraisy: Who can believe that 22 of the amazing young people who gave us sole of freedom still detained in prisons since 2yrs?! #FreeDetainedRevYouth
@NoonArabia: In #Yemen, while those who killed & looted the country are free & enjoy immunity, the revolutionary youth are in prison #FreeDetainedRevYouth
Waleed Al- ammari added [ar]:
الان عدد من شباب الثورة ينضمون الى الاعتصام في السجن المركزي حتى يتم الإفراج عن جميع شباب الثورة
A number of youth are joining a sit-in in front of Sanaa's central prison demanding the release of all the youth from the revolution
Yemen's Human Rights minister, Hooreya Mashhoor, joined 20 other leading youth activists who went on hunger strike and a sit-in on Saturday, June 1, at the central prison compound in Sanaa in solidarity with the detained young men.
In a video recorded phone conversation with the minister of Interior (posted by Mohammed Al-Yemeni on Youtube) Ms. Hooreya Mashhoor confirmed her commitment to free the detained youth. She told the minister “I am not a decor minister, I am a minister of the revolution who came from the squares.”
President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi demanded 48 hours for consultations with the cabinet and his advisers to resolve the matter.
Waleed Al-ammary tweeted in dismay:
معتقلون لاكثر من17500ساعة الرئيس هادي يطلب تمديد اعتقالهم 48 ساعة أخرى خارج اطار القانون
Detained for more than 17,500 hours of President Hadi asked to extend their detention another 48 hours outside the framework of the law #FreeDetainedRevYouth
A cabinet decision in June 26, 2012, had ordered the release of all political prisoners detained in 2011, as well as anyone abducted that year who turned up in prisons and was never charged. In March, President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, also issued a decree ordering the release of those detained during the revolution. The Attorney General, Ali Ahmed Nasser al-Awash, a remnant from the Saleh era and a loyalist, kept ignoring those orders. Finally, on June 5, 2013, President Hadi ordered the attorney general to immediately release 19 of the 22 detainees, who were on hunger strike. Yet the Attorney General cleared the release of only 17 of the detainees and kept the remaining 2 for “allegedly” suspicion of involvement in an attack on former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the June 2011, in Nahdeen Mosque.
Activists accused the Attorney General of illegally keeping the remaining two detainees as a political bargaining chip to use them against the case of “Friday of Karamah” massacre in which former president Saleh and his men were accused of killing 52 protesters. They called for his dismissal using the hashtag #أقيلوا_النائب_العام and organized a march on June 5th to his office to close it down.
(video uploaded by محبة اليمن)
Activist and photojournalist Al Sharani Faroq tweeted:
إقالة الأعوش من اجل سيادةالقرارات الرئاسية. #أقيلوا_النائب_العام #الحرية_لمعتقلي_الثورة” #FreeDetainedRevYouth #Yemen
Dismiss Alawash for the rule of presidential decrees, dismiss the Attorney General.
This morning, June 6th, Photo Journalist Yusra Ahmed tweeted:
17 detainees released this morning.. congrats.. rest r still in central prison #FreeDetainedRevYouth
More photos can be seen on photographer Nadia Abdullah's Facebook Album here.
@waleedpro: إصرار النائب العام على عدم الإفراج عن ابراهيم الحمادي وشعيب البعجري يثبت ان الهدف ليس قضية النهدين وانما الثورة
Attorney General's insistence on not releasing Ibrahim Al Hammadi and Shoaib Bajeri prove that the objective is not the case of the Nahdayn mosque, but the revolution
Many Yemenis are frustrated for the absence of law in Yemen, more so due to the apparent power struggle between President Hadi and Former president Saleh loyalists who do not comply to or execute presidential orders. Five revolutionary youth are still detained in Sanaa and 17 in Hajjah's prison and activist vow not to stop until they are all released.