Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Yemenis Fear Holding Funerals for Killed Relatives in Houthi-held Areas

Yemenis Fear Holding Funerals for Killed Relatives in Houthi-held Areas

Thursday, 1 October, 2020 - 05:15
A child alongside other Houthi fighters in an armed parade in Sanaa (Reuters)

Houthi oppression practiced in areas under their control has sparked fear in the hearts of thousands of Yemenis who now are going as far as concealing the deaths of their relatives and burying them in unmarked graves without holding funeral services.

Families in Sanaa in Taiz have been forced to hide the martyrdom of their relatives who were killed on the battlefield while defending the country against the Houthi insurgency alongside government forces.

They resort to keeping the news of the death of relatives a secret and only accept condolences from a trusted few over the phone.

The reason behind shrouding the deaths of valiant Yemenis in secrecy is traced back to Houthis hunting down the families of any opponent, sources said, adding that the lives of those families remain in danger.

Houthis have gone as far as kidnapping, arresting, and firing relatives of any opposition member.

Families of Yemenis who died fighting off the Houthi coup voiced their fear towards their other children being arrested and killed by the Iran-backed militia.

“Houthi oppression has led to neighbors hiding the truth from each other,” a brother of a Yemeni fighter who died in the battles raging in Marib against Houthis told Asharq Al-Awsat.

A resident of al-Hoban region east of Houthi-held Taiz, the brother, who requested anonymity, said that Houthi supervisors are closely monitoring families who happen to have a member disappear.

“The Houthi-appointed overseers investigate into the disappearance of any household member,” he said, adding that the families are forced to give false reasons for why their relatives are not home.

“When asked, the families say that the disappeared member had traveled to the village to work in agriculture,” the bereft brother said.

He stressed that his family, which owns a supermarket in Taiz, lives in constant fear of Houthis figuring out how his brother’s fate.

The deceased brother had died and was buried in Marib governorate in 2019.

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