Last Word’s of Abdullah Sa’ad, for Dr. Saqqaf [Archives:2000/24/Focus]
The great Yemeni journalist and writer, Abdullah Saad was among the closest friends of Dr. Saqqaf. A few days after Dr. Saqqaf’s death, Abdullah Saad sat down to write an orbituary letter for him. However, his destiny was that he would die too a few days later. As an appreciation for him, we here publish the incomplete letter of Abdullah Saad, which he planned to complete afterwards, but simply didn’t come back alive, may his soul rest in peace.
“In early 1998, while I was at his office at the Yemen Times newspaper I asked my friend Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Saqqaf in a friendly way about who might succeed him. He replied in a confident manner that he had sons and daughters each of whom he considered as competent as a Abdul Aziz by a thousand times. He added that he had built an establishment strong enough to carry on what he had begun. He told me about his children in Turkey, Italy and India.
I remembered this as I came to the Yemen Times to condole with his son Mr. Walid. I watched his face as he was receiving condolences upon the loss of a great human rights advocate and the founder of NGOs in Yemen, Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Saqqaf, may his soul rest in peace.
I knew the late Dr. Al-Saqqaf in the beginning of the 1990s. Our friendship became stronger and deeper after the civil war of 1994. Since then, we used to meet together at least once a month. We participated in many seminars, meetings, fora, all were organized to back up the work of NGOs and to defend human rights and press freedom.
All those who knew him believe that he was a school demonstrating the best models of virtues and love for his country. He was full of energy that he was able to work for more than 17 hours a day which is very rare for ordinary people, it is rather a characteristic of great men.
During the civil war of 1994 and after that we discussed the idea of founding a party comprising no more than 100 members. “80 are enough,” said Dr. Al-Saqqaf.
We discussed principles and conditions for establishing that party, with emphasis on surpassing past conflicts, non-commitment to any other ideology, working with available potentials without overlooking the future…etc. Unfortunately, the party project was not fulfilled. Whenever I met with Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Saqqaf, we talked again and again about that idea. He used to tell me that any person who worked sincerely and was not influenced by the parties, was as if belonging to our party. He mentioned some names. Today, after his death, people as well as parties believe that he was a multi-dimensional man who worked hard and sincerely for his people and country.
During a short period, Dr. Al-Saqqaf was able to prove himself a leading member of the intelligentsia in Yemen. He was as busy as a bee in his work in the NGOs, as a journalist and as the head of Rights and Freedoms Committee that was the most active committee at the Consultative Council. Dr. Abdul Aziz is the only Yemeni who visited most of the prisons in Yemen, got acquainted with prisoners conditions and helped free hundreds of them. He was able to do what parties could not do in this regard.
He presented the best example of opposition through his activities and through the Yemen Times. Although he had good relationships with officials, top of whom is the President, he did not hesitate in criticizing any negative issue. On the other hand he did not hesitate to praise great acts.”