Fate of Hajja detainees in Minister of Interior’s hands [Archives:2007/1092/Local News]

October 8 2007

By: Nisreen Shadad
For Yemen Times

HAJJA, Oct. 7 ) The fate of over 40 detainees in Hajja governorate north of Yemen, three of whom 15 years old, is in the hands of the Minister of Interior. They had been accused of supporting Houthi rebels in Sa'ada, near Hajja governorate.

A high level security committee in Hajja, which was created to solve the detainees issue, has passed on the responsibility to the ministry of interior.

Hajja governor, Farid Mujawar, stated yesterday that the committee recommends the immediate release of those against whom there is no evidence. Others should be referred to the General Prosecution in Sana'a.

The governor, who chairs the committee, said what happens next, is up to the Minister. “This case is very sensitive issue; therefore the decision to release them can't come from one side. The minister of interior is now in charge of investigating and consequently taking the decision,” said Mujawar.

However, Ali Al-Tumbala head of political security in Hajja said the committee has already investigated the detainees and has positive proof that they all are guilty.

“We have evidence, and they have confessed to supporting Al-Houthi insurgents in Sa'ada. But since this concerns the whole nation, it has to be handled by higher authorities,” he said. Al-Tumbala, who was a member of the security committee, hinted that he would deal with those who promote the detainees issue.

Ghalib al-Ahnumi, a father of one of he 15-year detainees, has reached a state of despair in following his son's case. “I don't know if this is good or bad news, I have lost direction amid all this government talk and paperwork,” he complained.

The detainees had started on a food strike one month ago, but after 5 days of hunger when no one paid attention to their cause, they called it off.

The case of an illegal arrest of forty-eight detainees in Hajja, three of whom are 15 years old has been on going for the last nine months. The detainees have been arrested on suspicion of having links with Al-Houthi insurgent in Sa'ada. To be released they were asked to bring a guarantee of 'good behavior' to ensure future non-involvement in any act that does not comply with government policies. Though the families of seven of the detainees did provide a guarantee as such, it was not acceptable. Even thought it was endorsed by senior figures in the community and the local council in Hajja.

Moreover, during the past few months, two official orders were given to release the detainees or give them a fair trial. Current governor claims he has not heard of such instructions despite the fact that they his office had issued one of them during the time of his predecessor in August this year. The other order was issued by the general prosecutor in Sana'a, Abdullah Al-Ulufi on August 13, as an endorsement to this, former governor of Hajja, Abdullah Al-Harazi, ordered the release of the detainees on August 25 a few days before he was transferred to Al-Mahra governorate.

Some of the detainees were humiliated during their detention because of their religious beliefs. All of the detainees are still in Jail until day.