Abuses in Guantanamo, Abu Gharib & Arab Prisons Debated [Archives:2004/741/Local News]

May 27 2004

The Sister Arabic Forum ( SAF) and the National Authority for Defending Human Rights and Freedoms ran a roundtable discussion last Thursday at the Yemen Times premises on the question of detainees in the prison of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Guantanamo prisons in Arab countries as well as Abu Gharib.
Mohammed Allaw of the National Authority said what happened in Abu Gharib prison was just an impulse test to see if the Arab nation is still alive or not and the result was that it is already dead. “I was expecting that the Iraqi people will rise and go to destroy the prison. Unfortunately, that did not take place and the response in the Arab countries was not that encouraging at all,” he said. He criticized the Arab regimes for not following up their citizens in Guantanamo prison; he said Britain could get its citizens back despite the fact they are Muslims. “In Yemen, one prisoner came back from Guantanamo prison to another Guantanamo in Sana'a,” he stressed. Allaw reiterated the Sana'a Declaration concerning those detainees on charges of terrorism which demanded an end to the limbo of the detainees, providing adequate support and assistance to their families and other demands. He criticized the statement of the Minister of Interior, who said last week that there are 48 prisoners who are currently under interrogation. He said this is a new crime invented by the government of Yemen.
On his part, advocate Khaled al-Anisi demanded that the Arab people should defend themselves after the display of the crimes of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. Miss Amal Basha of the SAF elaborated on the question of torture and the lapses the Yemeni government has gone through; she said Yemen ratified a number of international human rights treaties but without real implementation. She demanded that the government should allow NGOs to go to prisons and follow up torture incidents so that perpetrators can be held accountable and their crimes are made public; “If such violations are not a policy of the political regime, why do we not bring the perpetrators to justice before the public,” she asked.
She said that she could hardly get permission to go to the female prisons and that she got a personal permit from the Minister of Interior so as to provide legal assistance only, not to report the abuses. Basha said that poverty and unemployment is the real headache which could bring the scenario of Abu Gharib to every Arab country.
Discussions then were run by the audience.