Checkpoints, for regional considerations, commit systematic attacks against travelers arriving in the coastal city of Aden, in southern Yemen. These unethical practices ostensibly aim to blackmail travelers financially, but they go even further than that, which is to seek to stir up regional grudges in the souls of the people of one country.
This extremely dangerous phenomenon comes after the war has torn apart Yemen's geography and caused widespread destruction to the vital infrastructure, including bridges and roads, which were the most prominent victims of the nine-year-old conflict. Besides, the parties to the conflict have camped on the roads and dismantled their parts by hundreds of soldiers and checkpoints, with only 10 km separating one checkpoint from another.
Consequently, travelers in various regions of Yemen are subject to frequent interrogation and inspection at most security and military checkpoints, where soldiers stop the travelers passers-by on the travel routes and are interrogated with a famous question that all parties to the war agree to ask: “Where are you coming from, where are you going?”, While some are looking for a required answer to a question related to job and work.
Despite the comprehensive military calm on the battlefronts between the military groups affiliated with the warring parties, with the truce entering into force in April 2022, the warring parties' checkpoints continue to practice various violations, including: killing and injury through the use of firearms, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, abusing, obstruction of freedom of movement of travelers, especially women, as well as financial blackmail and looting, and preventing humanitarian access.
As a consequence of being denied access to travel through Sana'a International Airport, or for business purposes or family visits, tens of thousands of residents of the northern governorates are forced to endure the hardships and horrors of long travel in order to reach the city of Aden, including the possibility of traffic accidents due to dilapidated asphalt roads and rugged alternative roads in the valleys and waterways through which they pass.
Along the arduous road and its surroundings, from Sana'a to the coastal city of Aden in southern Yemen, there are hundreds of checkpoints that impede traffic and freedom of movement and pose a danger to the lives of travelers, who become extremely exhausted by the constant stops and unnecessary interrogation. However, many travelers manage to pass these security barriers.
As travelers arrive at the checkpoints of the Security Belt Forces, which tightly control the entrances and exits of the city of Aden, these forces exercise non-security tasks against them, including establishing roadblocks in the middle of the travel road for banditry and financial blackmail. Moreover, when these security forces at the checkpoints distinguish the license plate numbers of vehicles coming from the northern governorates, or by recognizing facial features or dialect, the soldiers immediately request their identification cards and then instruct the driver of the vehicle to stop on the side of the road for inspection and verification, so that the soldiers begin to treat the passengers as if they had just committed a sin, talking to them impulsively with sullen faces and suspicious glances.
Subsequently, the soldiers first thoroughly search the stopped vehicle, and if there is nothing to allow for blackmail, they order the victims, without any legal justification or security reasons, to open their cell phones for the purpose of inspection. Therefore, some compulsively comply with these orders for fear of being arrested in the Council’s notorious prisons and the physical and psychological violence and cruel treatment to which they may be subjected. For those who refuse or express their refusal to open their unlocked mobile phones, the matter may come to the point of brandishing the use of weapons or threatening to arrest and place them in prisons with absolutely no sunlight, in addition to racist and regional verbal assaults.
The procedure of searching mobile phones may last for long hours as the soldiers search for private chats and review the saved photos, including the private ones, without any shame or moral deterrents. Those soldiers practice this unethical behavior carelessly. Further, they fabricate accusations and spread panic in the hearts of travelers in order to confiscate the money they have under several pre-arranged fabrications, including belonging to the Houthi group or threatening them with pictures and correspondence related to personal relationships.
Accordingly, the continuing violations committed by the soldiers suggest that they are protected from legal accountability and from the accountability of senior security leaders. This is due to the continuous practices that arbitrarily strip the citizens of their legal right to protect their private lives and penetrate their personal spaces that are protected by international and national laws and social customs and traditions, which confront any disgraceful behavior that affects honor and reputation and violates the privacy and private affairs of individuals without legal justification or security reasons.