Even authorities take part Playing the hostage game [Archives:2003/05/Focus]

February 4 2003

The taking of hostages in tribal areas is still a worry among security authorities and human rights and freedom activists in Yemen.
This method has been one of the systems that Yemen’s former Imam regime used.
The revolutionaries, who tried to bomb the 26th September, also used this method as one of the means to put an end to Imam regime.
Zaid Mutea Dama’ag, one of the well-known intellectuals and novelists, composed a famous novel called “Hostage”.
Yemen’s Imam regime forced every tribe in Yemen to submit a hostage called an “obedience hostage,” to force those tribes to avoid any rebellion and disobedience.
It was asked from each tribe to necessarily submit additional hostages called ‘sympathy hostages’ in case one of its individuals made any violation.
Perhaps this system, which violates rights and freedom, was taken in the Imam’s security procedures in order to serve its domination and sovereignty. The tribal society was governed by strict norms and traditions that prevented rebellion or attack against a a tribe with a hostage.
The tribal norm obliged every one to pay the cost of the hostage with a hostage “fine”.
Currently, society believes that this system is one of the negative aspects of Imam tyrannical rule. However, we find that the authorities bring it back to existence in many cases and events that happen in Yemen. This is in spite of the obvious and bold violation of the constitution, laws and national and international convention related to human rights.
This distorts Yemen’s image in front of the public and the local and international world.
Here I will cite some examples of using this technique.
There was a conflict between the security and the Abeeda tribe at the end of 2001 to hunt down “Abu Asem” The security forced the Abeeda tribe to submit fifty hostages from its clans who were released just last November.
And the event of putting five persons from al-Zaidi tribe and I behind the bars in December 1997 in one of the capital prisons for three months considering us as hostages is still in memory as well as the other events that happened and still happen so far.
Perhaps this method is taken currently by the authorities. It is considered unsuccessful and mistaken that does not serve the security and stability because most tribal members in the meantime do not respect the norms and traditions that the Imam used to exploit them in imposing his control.
What happens when there is a problem, or anyone who belongs to a special tribe has done something wrong, is that everyone belonging to this tribe or area is arrested too and put behind bars.
They’re considered a hostage because the behavior of outlaws from his clan or tribe. That creates resentment for the peaceful and secured members.
That’s also violation of the valid constitution laws.
A lot of the tribes consider that what security authorities do in these cases is not different from the kidnapping that some tribes practice.
The process of kidnapping and counter-kidnapping happens among a few members that belong to special tribes aiming to get things from the government.
So is kidnapping secured citizens from the roads, towns and streets and putting them in the prisons under the pretexts tribal belonging?
These methods and procedures are against the constitutions and laws. We find the continuity of this phenomenon in spite of political opposition. However, it seems that the problem is the result of government weakness.
Some see that it is a result of fair and just procedures and solutions for problems while others think it is a result of misbehavior for security that has no system and plan for the government to take. Others believe it is a result of authorities and Sheiks seeking for a return to Imam traditions.
Thus, we still need to find solutions to put an end to the violations that within this. There is injustice and confiscating of human rights.