In Yemen's secret prisons, UAE tortures and US interrogates
One of the most shocking examples is the so called "grilling", where the subject is strapped to a "spit" as if to be baked alive, and they are rotated over a ring of fire.
AP's investigation has documented at least 18 illegal prisons in South Yemen that are run by the UAE or allied Yemeni forces, created and trained by the UAE. The reporters are citing testimony of former inmates and their families, lawyers and human-rights activists, and Yemeni military personnel.
These prisons were concealed, inaccessible to the local government, which gets aid from the UAE in its civil war against the rebels. The secret prisons are located in military bases, ports and one airport, in private houses and even in a night-club. Some inmates were transferred by air to an UAE base at the other side of the Red Sea, in Eritrea, Yemeni minister of the interior Hussain Arab said.
High-ranking US employees of the defense system have admitted that the US forces in the region actively participate in the interrogation of people in Yemen, but they have denied participating or indeed being aware of such human rights violations. The same way they used to deny it before the Abu Ghraib story broke out.
Interrogating prisoners who have been tortured may constitute a violation of international law, which prohibits participation in torture.
Some US defense employees who requested anonymity for safety reasons have admitted to the AP that the US forces indeed take part in the interrogation of prisoners across Yemen, they compile lists of questions, some of them ask the questions or receive protocols from the interrogation that their UAE allies conduct in the prisons. These sources confirm that high-ranking US military officials are aware of the allegations of torture in the Yemeni military prisons, and some have investigated these claims, but have only been content with hearing there had been no torture in the presence of US soldiers, which seems to suffice for them.
Dana White, the Pentagon spokesperson said the US military "always respects the high norms of personal and professional conduct" (again, they don't). She also promised the Pentagon would not look the other way from such stories, and any human rights violation would be reported and investigated. In turn, the UAE government has denied all allegations and said there are no secret prisons in Yemen, and no prisoners are tortured during interrogation sessions.
This is in stark contrast to the reports from lawyers and families who estimate that almost 2,000 people have disappeared into secret prisons. They haven't stopped protesting almost daily, demanding information about their disappeared sons, fathers and husbands. So, someone must be lying - either thousands of people have conspired to make the Yemeni and UAE governments look bad, or these governments are not telling the truth.
The stories are really horrific. In one of the main prison compounds at the Mukala airport, former prisoners say, people were being stuffed into cargo containers, covered in excrements, and made to stay there blindfolded for weeks. They were beaten, grilled, and sexually abused.
Several sources from the Yemeni security forces, created by the UAE, report that the US forces were often just a few meters away from what was happening. A former prisoner who had been kept at that airport for half a year says he could hear the screams all the time, the whole place was soaked with fear and pain, almost all prisoners were sick, and many were near death. Anyone who dared raise a voice and complain would directly go to the torture room. He himself spent most of those months inside a container, and the jailors would often light a fire beneath it, fill it with smoke and almost grill the people inside alive.
Just reminding that Jim Mattis, the Pentagon director, recently praised the UAE, calling that country "a little Sparta" for its significant role in the fight against Al Qaeda. The US forces regularly send questions to their UAE allies who keep the prisoners there, and then receive files and videos with the responses, Yemeni general Farag al Bassani says, the commander of the Second Military Zone stationed at the Mukala base. He also says the US has given the UAE authorities a list of the most wanted men, many of them later ending up in those jails. The general says no prisoners were given to the US, and that the allegations of torture are "exaggerated". Whatever that means.
Up to this point, a direct US participation in "enhanced interrogations" in Yemen has not been confirmed. But Yemeni officers who have worked in and around those facilities keep coming up with reports that they have seen people being detained and brought to those bases for interrogation. Even some high-ranking Yemeni military officers have corroborated these reports, one from the ministry of the interior and another from the chiefs of staff of the region where Mukala is located. They confirm that Americans have participated and continue to take part in interrogations in all sorts of places, both on land and at sea. And if even part of this is true, that means the US has kept being involved in blatant human rights violations, even after they promised they would stop it after the Abu Ghraib scandal.