‘US using UAE to do dirty work’: Gruesome report reveals sexual abuse at Emirati prisons in Yemen
Hundreds of detainees held by UAE forces in Yemen suffered from ruthless torture and abuse in “Abu Ghraib-like” prisons, including electrocuting genitals and sexual violation, a harrowing report by Associated Press revealed.
An investigation by the news agency cited gruesome witness accounts suggesting multiple detainees were being held without charge and sodomized in five Emirati-ran prisons, four of which are located in the Yemeni port city of Aden.
Yemeni guards commanded by Emirati officers have used various methods of sexual abuse and humiliation, witnesses told AP, including electrocuting prisoners’ genitals or hanging rocks from their testicles. In some instances, the guards sexually violated detainees with wooden and steel poles. Often, the shocking acts were filmed to persuade detainees to cooperate with the UAE military.
Witnesses (Yemeni security and military officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity) were not the only sources of information about what is happening inside the prisons, AP said. In some cases, captives’ letters and drawings – made on plastic plates with blue ink pen – were smuggled from inside the prison in Aden. One drawing shows a man being electrocuted while hanging naked from chains. Another one shows an inmate on the floor surrounded by snarling dogs as several people kick him, and also graphic depictions of anal rape.
One of the detainees who drew these pictures told AP that he has been in three different prisons. “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,” he said. “The worst thing about it is that I wish for death every day and I can’t find it.”
US officials have acknowledged that Washington receives intelligence from the UAE and have taken part in interrogations in Yemen, but prisoners said they haven’t seen Americans involved in torture directly.
“Americans use Emiratis as gloves to do their dirty work,” said one senior security official on condition of anonymity.
US personnel have been spotted at one of the five prisons situated at Burqita base, along with Colombian mercenaries, according to two prisoners and two security officials. The detainees could not say whether the Americans, some of whom wear military uniforms, are members of the US government or mercenaries.
A year ago, when AP’s investigation first revealed torture in UAE-controlled prisons in Yemen, it asked the US for comment.
The Pentagon said it was unaware of facts stated in the report. “US forces are required to report credible allegations of detainee abuse,” said Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman. “We have received no credible allegations that would substantiate the allegations put forth in your line of question/story.”
The US provides billions of dollars worth of arms worth to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, as well as intelligence and logistical support.
The Saudi-led coalition has been waging war in Yemen since 2015, after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels forced out the government of President Hadi. Three years of bombings and a blockade of Yemen has led to a humanitarian catastrophe with 80 percent of the population, in need of aid, suffering from diseases and malnutrition.
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