CAIRO — Yemen’s rebels on Sunday detained a former culture minister and writer who was a vocal critic of their rule, his family and lawyer said.
The rebels, known as Houthis, stormed Khalid al-Rwaishan’s home in a suburb of the capital Sanaa at dawn, seizing personal papers and documents. Al-Rwaishan was then taken to an undisclosed location, said his lawyer, Waddah Qutaish.
The former minister’s son, Waddah Al-Rwaishan, confirmed the arrest, saying that the Houthis “abducted” him.
A spokesman for the Houthi rebels did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.
Born in Sanaa in 1962, Khalid al-Rwaishan served as culture minister in 2006 in the government of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Al-Rwaishan did not leave Sanaa in 2014 when the Houthi rebels captured the city and much of northern Yemen, toppling the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabo Mansour Hadi.
Al-Rwaishan had been critical of the rebels for detaining thousands of Yemenis, including rights advocates, during the country’s grinding civil war.
The Iran-allied Houthis have detained scores of activists, journalists and lawyers. Rights groups have documented dozens of cases of forced disappearances and arbitrary arrests, and say detainees have been tortured to death inside Houthi-run facilities.
Earlier this month, a court run by the Houthi rebels sentenced four journalists to death after their conviction on spying charges.
The four were among a group of 10 journalists detained by the Houthis and accused of “collaborating with the enemy,” in reference to the Saudi-led coalition that has been at war with the rebels since 2015.
The U.S.-backed coalition has since conducted relentless airstrikes and a blockade of Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation.
Despite the Saudi-led coalition announcing a unilateral, two-week cease-fire starting April 9, violence has been reported by both the internationally recognized government and the Houthis.
The heaviest fighting has reportedly been taking place in the north, near the border with Saudi Arabia, as well as to the east of the capital. Saudi airstrikes also hit Sanaa on Thursday.
Yemen’s conflict has killed over 100,000 people and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving millions suffering from food and medical shortages.
Samy Magdy, The Associated Press