“God bless the sheikh, he voted for us” [Archives:2007/1102/Viewpoint]

November 12 2007

Of all the poverty, famine and injustice one sees in the country, this is one of the most shocking. This is the story of a district called Thubab stretching between Taiz and Hodieda governorates, it is an isolated area by mountains and not connected by easy roads. Thubab has a sheikh, called sheikh Al-Rabbash, who ruthlessly controls over three thousand villagers, deciding what to do, what not to do, and even how and who for to vote.

The village has no signs of development, no power, no water, no convenient housing, no basic education or healthcare. It escaped time in the sense that it is a typical Yemeni village, the way it was two hundred years ago. If you visit the village, you will find it constituting of a large number of small houses built using gray-bricks, stones, and mental plates, you will see goats and children roam around, and you might also notice the tire tracks of a US$ 47,000 land cruiser which the Sheikh just got last year, he says it is a gift from the president along with another 7 million Riyals (US$ ~35,000), in exchange for the votes of all the villagers, and a few more services.

People of the village barely know anything about the outside world, they drink whatever water from rainfall, whatever is collected by the natural cisterns around the village. The women might sometimes have to walk for two hours carrying a bucket of water in the earliest hours of the day, only for her husband to wash up himself before going to work in the Sheikh's land. Her two hour journey is equal to less than two minutes of washing up for him. And she better have the breakfast ready in time too, cooked using wood and sticks she gathered the previous day.

This is how it goes, the sheikh enslaves the villagers, the men enslave the women.

This is how it goes, president Saleh uses the country's wealth in breeding and maintaining the power of the enslavers. The US$ 82,000 could've gone a long way in improving the lives of thousand of villagers, that much money is enough to build a school, dig a well and establish a water project, and perhaps establish a basic health care facility.

Yemen applauds itself for being a country of democracy and human rights, shame on he who doesn't practice what he preaches. Recently sheikh Al-Rabbash was appointed as the undersecretary of Al-Hodieda governorate, in order to extend his influence and expand his slavery model to other areas.