May his Soul Rest in Peace [Archives:2000/24/Focus]

June 12 2000

On Saturday 3.6.2000 a ceremony was held in commemoration of the first anniversary of the late Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf. He was an unforgettable personality. Founding the Yemen Times, he was a sponsor of human rights and freedom of the press. He was the first professional journalist in Yemen.
I’ll never forget the time he came to Aden when he was the chairman of the Freedoms Committee at the Consultative Council. He used to make visits to prisons in the Republic to see prisoners’ conditions and to study prisoners’ cases. He phoned me one day to go together to Al-Mansoora prison. On the following day we went together to Al-Mansoora prison and there he examined cases of many prisoners and then paid “Orsh” an amount of money one has to pay in case he seriously injured someone. He was able to release tens of poor prisoners who were unable to pay. It is really hard to express my feeling when I saw those poor prisoners expressing their gratitude towards Dr. Al-Saqqaf. Releasing prisoners and studying prison conditions was only one example of the accomplishments of Dr. Al-Saqqaf when he joined the Consultative Council. His campaign against violating human rights was strengthened by his strong articles that distinguished Yemen Times from other newspapers. He used to stress the idea that democracy and respecting human rights go hand in hand. His strong relations with many Arab, regional and international organizations supporting democracy and human rights had an impact on making his efforts a success. He was also instrumental in making Sana’a host more than one regional and international conference.
The interview made with him by Al-Jazeera channel a few years ago made everybody proud of him. Many countries at the time had no idea about Yemen and if they had, it was a distorted picture. However, he came to give a clear image of Yemen and the democratic course it had adopted.
He was very instrumental in making many countries start supporting Yemen and appreciating its democratic transition. His newspaper Yemen Times used to be his weapon against corruption and corrupt officials. It was also the bridge linking Yemen to the world.
Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf was a person who used to find himself when he was with people feeling what they feel and trying to relieve them of their suffering. But he is now no more. He left us for good.
However, as he was a great politician and journalist he was also a great father. His sons proved to be as great as he was. Mr. Walid, chief editor of Yemen Times, shows that Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf has not died in vain and that his newspaper continues with its mission with the same pace is a strong proof of that. Therefore, Yemen Times, the soul of Dr. Al-Saqqaf, has to follow the same policy planned out by him so as to give him his due right.
Mohammed Abdulkader Al-Atar
Correspondent of French Press Agency,