Hundreds of detainees have suffered torture and sexual abuse by the Emirati officers at the jails Abu Dhabi runs in war-torn Yemen, a report reveals.
Citing victims and witnesses, the Associated Press reported Wednesday that the detainees, who are held without charges, have been sodomized, raped, probed and stripped down in at least five prisons.
In one case, detainees suffered sexual abuse at Beir Ahmed prison in the southern city of Aden on March 10, when fifteen Emirati officers ordered prisoners to undress and lie down for anal cavity checks, claiming they were looking for contraband cell phones.
Those prisoners who resisted were beaten until they bled, and threatened with barking dogs.
“They tortured me without even accusing me of anything. Sometimes I wish they would give me a charge so I can confess and end this pain,” said a prisoner, who was detained last year and has been in three different jails.
“The worst thing about it is that I wish for death every day and I can’t find it,” he said.
The detainees also smuggled letters and drawings from inside the Beir Ahmed prison to the AP, describing instances of sexual abuse.
The drawings show a man hanging naked from chains while being electrocuted, another inmate being kicked on the floor while surrounded by snarling dogs, and graphic depictions of rape.
Witnesses said that Yemeni guards working under the direction of Emirati officers used various methods of sexual torture and humiliation.
Prisoners were raped while other guards recorded the assaults. Detainees had their genitals electrocuted and rocks hung from their testicles, while others were sexually abused with wooden and steel poles, said the report
According to three military sources in Yemen who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, of the five prisons where sexual torture is alleged to have taken place, four are in Aden.
“One is at the Buriqa base – the headquarters for the Emirati forces. A second is at the house of Shallal Shaye, the Aden security chief closely allied with the UAE, and a third is at a nightclub-turned-prison called Wadah. The fourth is at Beir Ahmed, where the March atrocities occurred,” the report said.
US personnel have been seen at Buriqa base, the headquarters of UAE forces and one of the prisons identified, according to the report.
“Americans use Emiratis as gloves to do their dirty work, said a senior official at the Riyan Prison in the city of Mukalla, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Two other officials, who were once close to the Emiratis, said that mercenaries, including Americans, are present at all the Emirati military camps and sites, including the prisons.
US officials have acknowledged that American forces receive intelligence from UAE partners and have participated in interrogations in Yemen.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a former security chief who himself was involved in torturing detainees to extract confessions, told the AP that rape is used as a way to force detainees to cooperate with the Emiratis in spying.
Amnesty International said it had also documented “systematic grave violations” in UAE-run jails in Yemen. The group called the AP report as “shocking,” saying that US officials “continue to dismiss these credible allegations.”
In recent months, militants backed by the UAE have reportedly kidnapped and tortured hundreds of people in southern Yemen.
The kidnapping spree took place under the pretext of clearing out suspected al-Qaeda-linked elements.
The United Arab Emirates is Saudi Arabia’s key partner in its deadly war against Yemen, which has so far killed and wounded some 600,000 people, according to the latest figures.
Besides playing a significant part in aerial assaults and deploying troops to Yemen, Abu Dhabi has been training the pro-Saudi militants fighting on the ground against Yemeni armed forces.
Yemen’s southern regions are mostly controlled by UAE-backed militants loyal to the former government.