A member of the Yemeni security forces prepares to execute one of nine men
Understanding The Yemen Conflict In 60 Seconds Photo by Mohammed Huwais/AFP via Getty Images

Nine men were publicly executed through firing squad by the rebel Houthi movement in Yemen Sunday. The men were found guilty of spying and convicted for their alleged involvement in the killing of Saleh al-Sammad, a senior Houthi official during an airstrike in 2018 by the Saudi-led coalition.

According to the BBC, the men were among 16 people convicted by the rebel court of spying on sensitive information. The UN, EU, along with the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom have strongly condemned the brutal execution of the nine men who were dragged into a square, and were forced to lie face down as they were shot in the back.

Hundreds of spectators attended the execution in Tahrir Square situated in the rebel-held capital of Sanaa. Houthi supporters danced in the streets as the men were executed, sparking much outrage with the EU who branded their show “cruel and inhumane”.

Photos and footage of the executions were posted online reflecting the conflict and devastation Yemen has been subjected to when the Houthis seized control of most parts of the country in 2015. The fighting between Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition has since escalated leaving a death toll of more than 130,000 victims.

The United Nations calls this as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with about five million people on the brink of famine.

Of the 16 convicted, seven other defendants were tried and sentenced to death in absentia. These included Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as well as former US President Donald Trump.

UN Secretary General António Guterres's spokesman expressed deep regret over the execution as he strongly condemned the “sham trial" citing how the judicial proceedings do not appear to have gone through due process and a fair trial under international law.

At the same time the US and UK are in full support of the Saudi-led coalition as they denounced the executions. US chargé d'affaires Cathy Westley released a statement on Twitter calling the outrageous action as another example of the Houthi indifference to basic human rights.

On the other hand, the Houthis' foreign ministry dismissed much of the criticism it has received citing these as “interference in domestic affairs”. The ministry has also accused the United Nations together with the US and UK of turning a blind eye to the crimes committed by the coalition.

Yemeni supporters of the Shiite Huthi movement
Yemeni supporters of the Shiite Huthi movement take part to a ceremony commemorating the seventh anniversary of the Huthi takeover of the capital Sanaa, on September 21, 2021. - The conflict in Yemen flared in 2014 when the Huthis seized the capital Sanaa, prompting Saudi-led intervention to prop up the internationally recognised government the following year. Photo by Mohammed Huwais/AFP via Getty Images