Editor describes how he was tortured [Archives:2007/1112/Local News]

December 17 2007

MUKALLA, Dec. 15 ) One week has passed since Editor in chief of Al-Muharrer Weekly sent a public plea to concerned authorities demanding an investigation into the brutal abuse he had received in the hands of local security in Mukalla city in Hadramout. So far his case has been ignored by the authority. “It seems I have to come to Sana'a and talk to the Ministry of Information, because the local authority has failed me,” he said.

Editor Sabri Ba Makhasin had been subjected on Dec. 3, 2007 to physical and mental abuse by local security. This was the 20th time this newspaper and its editors had been subjected to some kind of harassment by the state. The attack was in reference to a court case that editor Sabri Ba Makhasin had with the state due to critical articles published in his newspaper in November this year. However, the case was annulled shortly after that because of local and international intervention. Despite this, because of “High Level Orders” he was abducted, jailed, and abused for a little less than 24 hours in a solitary cell at Ba Aboud Jail.

In his statement dated Dec. 11, he demanded justice and called on authority and concerned bodies to assist him in his battle to the right of expression. Here is what happened to him:

Monday Dec. 3, 8:00 PM: A military group of eight soldiers broke into the newspaper's offices and demanded he comes with them to Ba Aboud Police Station. The group was composed of members of the criminal investigation department at Hadramout governorate level, and members of the Mukalla district security.

Ba Makhasin was denied access to his lawyer and was taken on a security vehicle to the police station.

Monday Dec. 3, 8:30 PM: Abuallah Al-Jabri head of the criminal investigation unit at the police station orders the editor to leave his personal belongings at the station in preparation to be sent to jail. The head of the CI unit refused to listen to the editors questioning, and when Ba Makhasin presented him with a letter from Mukalla Attorney stating the annulment of the case, the head of the CI unit snatched the paper and tore it into pieces in front of everyone in the room including the editor's friend who had come with him to the station.

Monday Dec. 3, 9:00 PM: Editor Ba Makhasin was thrown into a dark smelly cell full of roaches and various kinds of insects. Soon he discovers it is the toilet. He spends the night trying to wear the insects off his body. Nearing dawn the next day he has a vomit attack and he goes into a fit of convulsions. The guard rushes to report his state to his superior, who indifferently refuses to do anything about it. Ba Makhasin goes into coma for several hours.

Tuesday Dec.4, 10:00 AM: Lawyer, friends and family of the editor are demanding his release. They bring a release order from the general attorney. However, all the efforts fail, again because of “high level orders”.

Tuesday Dec.4, 12:00 AM: Journalists syndicate branch in Mukalla and head office in Sana'a, issue a statement and demand the editor's release. Local political figures threat to organize a riot in the streets.

Tuesday Dec. 4, 2:00 PM: Editor Ba was shaken awake by a security guard who brings him some food from his family. The editor refuses to eat and goes on a food strike until he is released. Despite the probing from the security guard confirming that the papers for the release are being processed.

Tuesday Dec. 4, 5:00 PM: Editor Ba Mukhasin was released. He is still recovering from the humiliating ordeal. And he still had not received all his personal belongings from the police station until date.