On Friday, January 30, 2015, Houthi militants reportedly arrested and detained an unknown number of protesters, including the leader of the Sana’a University Student Union, Radwan Masood. According to eyewitness accounts, Masood, who has been involved in recent anti-Houthi protests, was seized outside his home by Houthi troops, and taken to an undisclosed location. As of this report, his whereabouts are unknown.
Sana’a University has been a site of several protests against Houthi militants’ seizure of control over parts of the country. Houthi forces have disbursed these protests on a number of occasions by firing guns into the air, attacking and/or detaining protesters.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about arbitrary detention and/or disappearance of students in apparent retaliation for nonviolent expressive activity – conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All parties to a conflict must refrain from attacks against, as well as detention and disappearance of, non-combatants, including members of higher education communities. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and freedom.