Growing concern over human rights in Yemen after September 11 [Archives:2002/39/Front Page]

September 23 2002

A number of Yemeni intellectuals, MPs, and journalists called for resisting the consequences of the September 11 attacks and their impact on human rights in Yemen. In a round- table meeting organized Thursday by Arabic Sisters Forum for Human Rights, the participants demanded for active role on the part of political parties, NGOs and intellectuals to resist violations of human rights under the pretext of the war on terrorism.
Mohammed al-Sabri, political analyst, said the Yemeni government has gone to the extreme in abusing human rights in a way violating the Constitution. He stressed that in the light of the US war on terrorism, human rights in the Islamic and Arab countries will backslide considerably and if any country refuses this US concept it will face the fate Iraq is facing and will be target of the US military attacks. He called for a joint effort by political parties, NGOs, intellectuals, journalists and opinion makers to face the impact of the September 11 incidents.
Mohammed Najji Allaw criticized the political parties for keeping mute towards government violations of human rights and rights of the detainees. He called for legalization of any measures the government intends to carry out in the war on terrorism.
The government should pass laws in this respect, calling for resisting the US plan and making the world hear the voice of Yemen in this regard. However, Mohammed al-Tayib, Head of Human Rights, Liberties and Civil Society Committee at the Shura Council, said the government arrests were for security purposes only and that those who are being held are not wanted by the US. Those who are wanted are on the run. He also said the US administration was serious about striking Yemen after the September 11, adding that even some extremists at the US administration were opposing even meeting President Saleh when he visited the US last November. But, the Yemeni leadership could know how to absorb this American anger and escape many problems Yemen was to face. He said the Americans had wrong information about al-qaeda presence in Yemen and that Yemen went into a limited scope of security cooperation with the USA. But, he said the fate of the region, human rights and democracy are hanging in the balance and that the Americans did not want only to crack down on al-qaeda but also changing the cultures and political systems that have produced al-qaeda elements as well as reshaping up the map of the whole region.
Hamoud Munasser,writer and political analyst, called on all political systems and people to join forces and defend themselves against the dilapidations of the September 11 incidents through a clear and long- term strategy.
Other participants highlighted the economic impact of these attacks. Amal Basha , head of the host forum said the attacks increased the number of the poor as the attacks have damaged tourism and other businesses. She also called for creating a general awareness of human rights and strategy to defend them.