Four murders of gay men in Yemen

Port of Aden in Yemen. (Photo courtesy of
Port of Aden in Yemen. (Photo courtesy of
Map of Yemen shows location of Aden near the southern end of the Red Sea.
Map of Yemen shows location of Aden near the southern end of the Red Sea.

The gay community in the Yemeni port city Aden has reported four murders of gay men there since Aug. 23, according to the London-based LGBTI activist group Rainbow Warriors.

The reported murders have occurred during turbulent times in the wake of the Yemeni government’s retreat from Aden in March under pressure from pro-Iranian rebel Houthi forces. In the summer,  al Qaeda militants fought alongside  Saudi-backed militias and United Arab Emirates troops to combat the Houthis in Aden and retake parts of the city.  Saudi-backed troops last week launched a further offensive, which led to today’s return of Yemeni officials to Aden.

The first two murders occurred on Aug. 23, the day when Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) took control of some parts of the city, Rainbow Warriors said. Sources in Aden reported the names of the two victims,  identified as B.F. and R.M., published their photos and described the circumstances of the killings.  One victim was in his 60s; the other was a hospital volunteer who was in his 20s. Both were natives of Yemen.

They were killed at separate locations on the same day. The older man was shot 10 times while he was helping women prepare food in a public location. The younger man was shot in the street on his way home.

The third reported killing was on Sept. 13 in the Al-Qaloa’ah area of Aden. The victim, Mohammed J., of Somali origin, was stabbed and then shot in the street after he responded to a boy’s request to come out of his house, Yemeni sources said.

Militia in position in Aden. (Photo courtesy of CNN)
Militia in position in Aden. (Photo courtesy of CNN)

The fourth murder victim was Hassan A., a gay Yemeni man who was walking down a street with a gay friend on Sept. 15 when he was killed by shots fired by a passing motorcyclist. His friend was injured in the attack.

“Obviously these recurrent and indiscriminate killings are frightening the local gay community, which feels undefended as the potential target of these violent attacks,” Rainbow Warriors said. “A clear link can be made between these recent killings and the concomitant presence in Aden of militia from AQAP. This terrorist organisation has been profiting from the gap generated by the withdrawal of rebel Houthi forces without any meaningful reinstatement of army and police security by official government institutions.”

The director of Rainbow Warriors said his account of the murders was based on Yemeni gays’ descriptions provided online, but was not separately verifiable.

“I have names, photos and indirect information of the people who got killed so far, so decided it was the case to publish this and bring the news out,” he said.

Yemen is one of ten countries in the world in which homosexuality is punishable by death. Traditionally, that penalty is not enforced, but the gay community is worried that the situation will change with the rise of AQAP, which is reputed to have executed people who were accused of being gay.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.


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