“We have no value in these prisons. We do not know what our crime is and why they torture us and exercise our dignity with that brutality. They were taking turns to torture me and I relied on their exhaustion from hitting me to salvage me from torture.”
In those words, one of the Yemeni detainees in a prison located within the coalition headquarters in Bareqa, the temporary capital of Aden (southern Yemen), summarizes the manner in which UAE interrogators and soldiers interrogate detainees and torture them.
We read statements made by detainees about the conditions of their detention, which consisted of shocking stories exposing the reality of the coalition prisons, with all the acts of torture practiced, «death becomes dignity and a shelter» as they say.
This report examines the environment surrounding detainees, the methods of torture practiced in the UAE prisons and the security forces affiliated with them in Aden, the conditions of detention, the nature of the interrogators and the torturers, and the humanitarian stories of a number of victims.
A major Emirati prison and its branches operated by agents
The prison in Bareqa camp is the main detention center for the UAE, run by UAE investigators, officers and soldiers, guarded by conscripts of foreign nationalities, while the other prisons are run by security and military groups loyal to them such as the security belt and the Aden security department, which operate under the supervision of the UAE.
There is no specific mechanism for dealing with “terrorism suspects” in all prisons other than those determined by Emiratis. Some are transferred directly to the Coalition prison, others are temporarily detained and tortured in Shalaal prison, Abu Yamama, counterterrorism or other security belt prisons, but are referred to the UAE prison, boosted by the result of their confessions extracted at the first stage.
It is subjected to the extent of the overcrowded prison cells of the coalition and the mood of the UAE nationals, as the UAE interrogators complete a group (within days or weeks and sometimes months), they sent them to another prison (like a reserve) to ask for another group from other agents’ prisons, sometimes summoning others who had been already referred to “reserve prisons” to reinterrogate.
In any case, detainees suspected of terrorism are released only with the consent of the UAE authorities in Aden. The Yemeni government does not have any powers in this regard. This is confirmed by statements made by Yemeni security officials, most recently Interior Minister Ahmed al-Misri. His ministry has no authority over it.
According to the testimonies of detainees, they were subjected to physical and psychological torture in the first days of their detention and before the interrogation, until the detainee reaches the stage of psychological rehabilitation of the confession, and asks of what is required of him to confess and he shall obey. In some cases, the detainee is dictated on what to confess and video-documented.
This is a brief introduction to the fact that many of those investigated in the camps of Aden have faced death, while others lived a “life more terrifying than death.”
The outbreak of torture consisted of beating, electricity and sexual assault
Different are the methods of torture practiced in the prisons of Aden, but the cruelest and most brutal of what is practiced in the prison of the coalition administered by the UAE, which is parallel to what is practiced in the prison of Shalal. Shalal is the security director of Aden, and the prison is a part of his own house. There are other prisons who practice various methods of torture but we were unable to get witnesses from.
According to two detainees in the coalition prison, UAE soldiers hit various parts of their bodies with sticks, handcuffs and metal sheets, and at a certain level of torture, they seek to strip them, strip them completely, and sexually assault them.
One of the detainees told the source that six Emirati soldiers, describing them as wrestlers, that they took turns on his skin; handcuffed and feet; a full night during Ramadan last year. They beat him with batons and sticks in the joints, and they trampled on his stomach until he almost felt it stick to his back. They then stripped him and threatened him with sexual assault, forcing him to confess his belonging to Daesh in order to preserve his honor.
Three days later, the same detainee was returned to undergo investigation and was asked to confess to a murder. He added: “I refused to confess categorically. They resumed my torture as they had already done. They opened my anus with handles like those used by hemorrhoid surgery doctors and then inserted a thick, flexible stick several times. He says he fainted more than once and they woke him up with water only to conduct the torture again.
The same thing happens in other prisons, such as the Shalal prison. People who were arrested there revealed that hooded soldiers stripped them and inserted jagged iron sticks of varying sizes in their anuses, causing them to bleed for days, especially when trying to defecate.
“Shakira” .. A police dog snapping the detainees
The UAE forces possess a spoiled dog dubbed “Shakira”, information indicate that the forces used the dog to frighten the detainees after stripping them. Some of them, including “Holmi”, an African immigrant, was snapped at the bottom of the pelvis on the right side, and another detainee in the thigh.
An African immigrant, a detainee in the coalition prison that is another victim of the severe torture confirmed that he had seen UAE soldiers wrap the body of another African immigrant in a black bag after an attempt to revive him failed, and carried him to a car that headed to an unknown location.
Remaining in a position of hanging in the air or a hole
Among the methods of torture used by Emiratis are keeping the detainee days and nights in a narrow hole outside, not enough to sit down, lie down or sleep. One of the prominent military leaders affiliated with Hadi in Abyan has been in this prison for several days.
The detainee is often blindfolded and hanged from his hands to the top with only his fingertips touching the ground, accompanied by an intermittent beating on his body. A technique followed by the coalition prison and other prisons. The prisoner is also suspended from evening until morning and may be left longer.
Drowning and electricity in sexual organs
It is common for most police systems to use electricity in torture, but what is a characteristic of the Emiratis and their loyalists in Aden is connecting it to sexual organs .. Two detainees in the prison of Shalal said that the soldiers were connecting electricity, high voltage, to their male organs, while a detainee in the coalition prison reported Emiratis connecting the electricity to a pole and use it to hit the behind of detainees.
The soldiers also used at Shalal Prison one of the most famous methods of torture in American prisons. The method, waterboarding, is performed by pouring water over the nose or mouth of an immobilized person, forcing the individual to experience the sensation of drowning.
Among the common methods of torture there are slapping and kicking, stomping on the face and mouth with shoes, extinguishing cigarettes on the detainees’ bodies, burning plastic bottles and melting them on the bodies of the detainees, depriving them of sleep, water, medicine and adequate food, keeping them away from the sun for days or weeks and then taking them out at noon.
Detainees dying due to torture and drug prevention
Sources reported information that states there were people who died of torture, but there were those who died because of the denial of medicine.
Qasim Ali Salem Al Yaf’i, who was suffering from cholera symptoms in a prison cell in Shalal Prison. His colleagues beat the door vigorously and begged the soldiers to help him, but the soldiers directed their weapons at their faces and threatened to shoot them, they also told them to let them know when he dies so they can throw him on the nearest mountain, according to his colleagues. Qassim eventually died and they came and took him, wrapped him in a blanket and threw him on an unknown mountain. Nayef al-Yahri, a 43-year-old disabled person with two paraplegic arms and a diabetic who was a land guard in al-Ma’ala was arrested in early November 2016. He was held in Shalal Prison, following a relationship with a suspected al-Qaeda operative.
According to detainees, he was prevented from treating diabetes, and complications were noticed accordingly. Two weeks after his arrest, he disappeared from inside the prison, and no one heard about him after the incident.
One of the detainees in Shalal prison was suffering from “dyspnea” due to lack of ventilation in a crowded cell. Prisoners used to compile to breathe air from a small incision below the door. The detainee’s crisis was aggravated and he kept hitting his head on the cell wall until he died and as usual, soldiers arrived and carried him in a blanket to an unidentified location.
Ali Abdullah al-Sharmani, from Lahj province, was arrested in the old prison of Bir Ahmad as a hostage on behalf of his brother Osama, who was accused by the security authorities of participating in the attack on Lahj province’s health office in late March 2017.
Al-Sharmani’s colleagues in prison said that they woke up one day and did not find him, they informed the administration but did not receive a response. In the evening, the prison director, Ghassan Abdalbari al-Aqrabi (Abu Alaa), met with prisoners and showed them the picture of al-Shurmani dead and threatened them with the same fate.
The security of Aden posted a videotape on YouTube, including the confessions of a man named Shukri al-Saqqaf about committing the crime of the elderly home in Aden.
Information indicate that al-Saqqaf was subjected to severe torture in Shalal prison. He remained suspended for three days with severe electricity connected to his private part. Prisoners say Al-Saqqaf disappeared from prison after weeks of detention and a severe deterioration in his health as a result of torture, but later learned that he had died.
At the moment, there are the names of some 15 detainees recorded whose testimonies indicate that they were killed by torture. Three of them were killed in the coalition prison. The rest are distributed in Aden’s prisons supervised by Shalal or the security belt, and one person died in a prison in Lahj Province.