Mass graves pave the way for national reconciliation [Archives:2005/904/Opinion]

December 19 2005

Fadhl Ali Abdullah
Human Rights Advocate

Mass graves have recently been discovered at the area of Sawlaban, Khor Maksar of Aden governorate. Since mass graves are spread in all governorates of Yemen (both in the northern and the southern parts as a result of armed conflicts) in past periods and at present, this matter dictates on us to call on all political forces to start an effort for national frankness in prelude to national reconciliation in the country.

In order to accomplish this process there must be the participation of neutral international committees to dig those graves, determine the date of the remains, and then define the responsibility for the event. Tackling the issue of victims and agreement with their families on settlement would be within the framework of the comprehensive national frankness and reconciliation, similar to what happened in many countries in the world.

The international law gives the families of the victims the right to trying those who caused bloodshed of those people, if no settlement has been reached between the two concerned parties. According to my knowledge, families of the victims remained for long time searching for the destiny of their sons and relatives. A number of those victims' families had contacted human rights organizations and submitted files of the missing persons to the UNHCR. Moreover, this issue is still open at the United Nations. In order to close the file there must be an announcement on the beginning of a stage of national reconciliation and openness. Locations of mass graves have to be spotted and to confirm the date of victims' death by neutral international committees. It is only then when this issue will be settled with the families of the victims; who suffered a lot in northern and southern Yemen during periods of political conflicts.

This is a call for national reconciliation and a beginning of a new era where facts are to be disclosed, suitable solutions for comprehensive national reconciliation are submitted and reformation of the political, economic and social disorder resulting from those political conflicts, the latest of which was the conflict of the 1994 war. In my opinion, this is the solution for all those who want to build a country free from rancor and old vengeance in a sincere national sense, and not for the sake of political biddings.

The political forces in the country, both in power and in opposition, have to understand that such crimes are not to be faded away with passage of time. They will instead keep pursuing their perpetrators.