Woman activist wins top human rights award for exposing secret prisons in Yemen

Huda al-Sarari helped to establish Union of Mothers of Abductees and has secured release of more than 260 detainees


News Desk February 19, 2020
Huda al-Sarari helped to establish Union of Mothers of Abductees and has secured release of more than 260 detainees. PHOTO COURTESY: MARTIN ENNALS AWARD

Yemeni activist Huda al-Sarari received an award for 2020 winner of the Martin Ennals Award – that recognises the work of outstanding human rights defenders – for her remarkable work exposing a network of secret prisons in Yemen.

Since 2015, security forces have carried out thousands of extreme human rights violations – including enforced disappearances, torture and extra-judicial killings – read an official statement issued on Wednesday.

"I am confident that the public in Europe and the US would like to know that their leaders are promoting and protecting human rights abroad and not complicit in torture, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention,” Huda said.

Contacted by several mothers seeking information about their sons, who had been ‘disappeared’, Huda, as a lawyer, initially sought redress through official channels, but had no success in Yemeni courts, and so turned to the court of public opinion.

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The activist helped to establish the Union of Mothers of Abductees in Aden and has secured the release of more than 260 detainees.

However, more than 2,000 people are still missing.

Huda’s courage was not even shattered when her name appeared on a leaked ‘hit list’ of targets, to which, she was forced to leave Yemen, and continue her work from overseas.

The Martin Ennals Award, one of the world’s most prestigious human rights prizes, recognises her bravery and the impact of her work.

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