Fellow inmate breaks Al-Khaiwani’s jawPrison beating [Archives:2004/788/Front Page]

November 8 2004

Mohammed bin Sallam
Prisoner of opinion Abdulkarim Al-Khaiwani, editor-in-chief of the now-closed opposition weekly Al-Shoura, was heavily beaten Friday afternoon, Nov 5, by a fellow inmate who reportedly broke his jaw.
Sources say Abdulrahman Dammage, an officer from the Criminal Investigation Bureau, who himself is imprisoned for a criminal charge, attacked Al-Khaiwani from the back with a solid tool trying to crush his skull. The victim's lower jaw was dislodged and his shoulder, hand and neck were bruised.
Sources also say that after falling to the ground unconscious, Al-Khaiwani was protected by some inmates from being killed.
The prison authority allegedly did not offer to take him to the hospital or punish the attacker, a source close to Al-Khaiwani said.
The newspaper editor was sentenced to one year in jail several weeks ago as a result of some of his published writings.
The Public Forces Union (PFU), the party to which Al-Khaiwani affiliates, has issued a statement on Friday evening, putting the responsibility of protecting Al-Khaiwani's life on the authority.
The General Secretariat of the party called on unions, syndicates, and human rights organizations to continuously press on the government to free Al-Khaiwani and respect human dignity and rights in Yemen.
The statement said: “The General Secretariat has discussed at its extraordinary meeting on Friday evening Nov. 5 the criminal assault targeting the life of Abdulkarim Al-Khaiwani, member of the PFU's General Secretariat, editor-in-chief of Al-Shura newspaper, as one of the prisoners hit him on the back of his head causing him to fall unconscious.”
“The General Secretariat is renewing its request to immediately release Al-Khaiwani and stop violations against him and Al-Shura newspaper which started with an illegal trial resulting in an unfair political judgment while the Court of Appeal has delayed looking into the case up until now,” the statement read.
The statement concluded saying: “Despite the recurrent local, Arab and international calls and appeals condemning the arrest of Al-Khaiwani and asking for his release as a prisoner of opinion who has undergone a politically motivated trial, the authority is still conducting its violations against Al-Khaiwani's freedom, exposing him to bodily harm by means of deliberate vindictive acts.”
The International Journalists Union sent a message last week to president Saleh urging him to release Al-Khaiwani to affirm Yemen's commitment to principles of press freedom.
The Secretary General of the Union expressed his concern over the reports on Al-Khaiwani's health. He requested the president to make sure his directives are applied concerning the abolishing of journalists' imprisonment, to assert Yemen's adhering to the values of democracy, plurality and freedom of expression.
“The trial and imprisonment of Al-Khaiwani has surprised the world's journalists. It is unbearable and targets journalists' work,” the message said.
The Secretary General of the Union, which is the biggest union worldwide to which Yemen's Journalists Syndicate belongs, denounced the official withdrawal of Al-Nida and Al-Huriyah newspapers' licenses.
“These acts and the detention of Al-Khaiwani is a type of oppressing journalists and newspapers,” the message added.
Meanwhile, tens of Yemeni journalists gathered together Saturday afternoon, Nov 6 at the gate of the Sana'a Central Prison on hearing about the Friday's attack.
The protestors expressed their resentment at jeopardizing Al-Khaiwani. They also fearfully indicated the possibility of his death after the series of attacks in prison.
They said: “This is likely because the government has not responded to the journalists' and liberty lovers' warnings about putting Al-Khaiwani among criminal convicts in prison.”
One of the PFU's leaders said: “Preliminary information reveals that the perpetrator is related to a security body that has ordered him to attack Al-Khaiwani in order to take revenge on him for his political stance and journalistic writing.”