Yemeni human rights activist Samira Abdullah Al-Houry, who was previously imprisoned by the Houthis, was interviewed on December 4, 2021 on Rotana Khalijiya (Saudi Arabia) about the time she spent in the Houthi prison. Al-Houry said that girls and women were raped and tortured in interrogation rooms and that various torture techniques were used against the women, including electric shock, suspension torture, and beatings. She said that the blood and hair of women who committed suicide was visible in the prison cells, and she told the story of a woman whose five-year-old daughter was forced to watch as she was tortured and as she miscarried in the interrogation room.
In addition, Al-Houry said that she could hear the screams of women being raped in nearby prison cells, and that the Houthi prison guards would tell her that it was her own young daughter being raped. She also said that she had tried to commit suicide more than once. Furthermore, Al-Houry told the interviewer that female commanders from Iran and Hizbullah would visit the prison and oversee its operations. She explained that the Hizbullah members would act as translators for the Iranians. Al-Houry spoke about her book, in which she describes her experiences, and cried several times during the interview.
Samira Abdullah Al-Houry: "The [women] who run these groups are commanders from Hizbullah and Iran, who would visit the prison grounds..."
Interviewer: "Did you have any contact with them?"
Al-Houry: "I saw them, but I had no contact with them. They would visit the prisoners, and check up on us in our cells, and the Lebanese among them would translate for the Iranians...
"Not a night goes by without me putting my head on my pillow and remembering the girls screaming, remembering their voices, and their words.
"My book contains the testimonies of girls who still live in Sanaa, stories about girls who are still in Houthi prisons, and girls whose society and families have turned their backs on them. This book is a firsthand account by someone who lived, cried, and screamed with these girls. There are many stories and much pain, the screaming of girls who were raped... Girls who were raped... Girls who committed suicide in their cells... I saw the signs of their hair and their blood in my cell, girls who shouted: 'Oh, Allah...' Girls who shouted like I did – I would call for my brothers... Girls who shouted out the names of their children, girls who would sing... Can I have the tissues?"
Interviewer: "Go ahead..."
Al-Houry: "In the book, there are many stories... There is the story of my friend who miscarried in her cell due to the intense torture, and we heard the voice of a baby who came to the world in a cell... Can you imagine anything more atrocious? There was a woman who was abducted. She was the daughter of an important sheikh in Sanaa. She was abducted along with her daughter, who was no more than five..."
Interviewer: "Just a little girl?"
Al-Houry: "Yes. Her daughter would come with the supervisors and she would shout out and call for her mother, saying: 'Mama, cry out so they will release you.' The girl would tell her mother to scream so they would releaser her. They would let this little girl be present when her mother would be interrogated, and she saw how her mother fainted and miscarried in front of the interrogators..."
Interviewer: "Please take a break, forgive me."
Al-Houry: "The torture included electric shocks, suspension torture, beatings, and humiliating expressions – every kind of torture you could imagine.
"I would ask them where my daughter was. When they abducted me, I was with my 14-year-old daughter. I was afraid when I heard the screams of the girls, who were being raped in the interrogation rooms. The Zaynabiat [Houthi female guards] would tell me: 'That is your daughter.' For three months they let me think this was my daughter. I tried to commit suicide several times... I am just... You need to understand that I was willing to tolerate all sorts of torture only to make sure that it was not my daughter in the interrogation room. That is all I wanted."