My Experience During 16 Days Detention [Archives:2001/31/Focus]

July 30 2001

Hassan Al-Zaidi
It is well known that the Political Security Office (PSO) is one of the security institutions directly affiliated to the presidency of Yemen. Its main task is to supervise and pursue issues which might harm the security and stability of the country and to protect it from any external or internal conspiracies. It is strange to see that human rights are confiscated and violated in a time prison cells don’t submit to any supervision whatsoever. It has to be mentioned here that in today’s Yemen, it is forbidden for anyone to interfere or visit prisoners imprisoned by the PSO. I remember being put in jail illegally by the PSO on the 10th of May this year and spent sixteen days there. I want to point out here that I kept on asking myself why I was put in that private dark cell by the PSO. During times when I could get out of the cell, I hear strange stories of some people being imprisoned in the cells with accusations of involvement in the bombing of the USS Cole. Some of them said that they had spent five months in prison without any trial. Doors used to be opened fiercely three times everyday. We were kept in underground cells, no outlet to breath fresh air. Breakfast was a piece of bread and water. Lunch was rice with unpeeled potatoes. The sanitary conditions of the cell were miserable. It is truly unimaginable to find several prisoners deprived from vital needs such as water and food. Adding insult to injury, no one would be allowed to visit those prisoners or keep in touch with friends and relatives. This is what happened to me. I was after some time released from the private cell to a group prison cell in which a lot of prisoners were put for a long time. No one had an idea of his fate and I could openly say that many of them didn’t know why they were caught in the first place. Despite all that, I should be very grateful to a few officers who treated me well during my time in the prison. How I would love to have the president visit those cells and know what is going on. What I want to say here is that those prisoners are human beings that need to have decent food and clean water. The PSO must stay away from using force and intimidation. I reiterate that such practices have to be prevented. Finally, and frankly speaking I wrote this article, trembling with fear of having to revisit the prison again. I do however feel glad that I delivered my opinion.