Yemeni Human Rights Minister Hooriya Mashhour has gone on hunger strike in protest against the continued detention of dozens of activists in connection with the popular uprising that ousted dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh.
“I am on hunger strike and I will not stop until the imprisoned revolution youths are released,” Mashhour said on Sunday. “Their only fault was that they participated in the peaceful revolution.”
Activists stated that Mashhour joined a group of 20 other prominent youth activists, who began a hunger strike and a sit-in at the main prison compound in the capital, Sana’a, on June 1.
According to Yemeni rights group Hood, a total of 58 pro-democracy protesters that participated in demonstrations against Saleh remain in jail. The fate of 17 others remains unknown.
Leading youth activist Walid al-Ammari said, “We visited the detainees at the central prison on Saturday, and found their situation difficult and thus decided to begin a solidarity strike in the prison and will not leave without them.”
Ammari warned of “escalation” if the activists were not released.
Saleh formally stepped down and handed over power to then Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi in February 2012. The power transfer occurred under a Saudi-backed deal brokered by the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council in April 2011 and signed by Saleh in Riyadh on November 23, 2011.
Meanwhile, an unnamed Yemeni government official said Hadi had started consultations with the cabinet and his advisers in order to resolve the issue of the detentions.
In March, Hadi issued a decree ordering the release of those detained during the revolution. Activists accuse the public prosecutor, a remnant from the former regime, of disregarding the order.