Parliament prevented from investigating violations [Archives:2007/1030/Front Page]

March 5 2007

Saddam Al-Ashmori
IBB, March 4 – A fact-finding parliamentary committee was unable to reach Al-Ghashen district's Ra'ash village to investigate human rights violations committed against villagers by Sheikh Mohammed Ahmed Mansour and his son.

According to HOOD lawyer Abdulrahman Barman, the local authority in Ibb governorate prevented the committee from entering the area. Further, Sheikh Mansour created military barracks and checkpoints involving more than 200 soldiers and 10 armored vehicles to prevent locals from going in or out of the area.

Barman noted that more than 28 Al-Soufa villagers were arrested as they were returning from the demonstration camp, but they were released after mediation efforts. Regardless, some still are staging a sit-in before the Ibb governorate building.

Parliament agreed to form the fact-finding committee after locals from Ra'ash and Al-Soufa staged a Feb. 12 sit-in before its building, demanding investigation of Sheikh Mansour's violations against them for many years.

The demonstrators raised banners reading: “Al-Gashen's sons seek refuge in Yemen!” “We don't ask for the impossible!” “We don't need more slavery!” and “Yes to freedom!”

In addition to investigating the sheikh, the locals also requested rescinding his immunity. They previously had asked President Ali Abdullah Saleh to intervene immediately to stop the forced and continued evacuation from their homes.

The villagers also provided media outlets examples of their suffering, mentioning blackmailing and other violations against them.

In its statement, the National Organization for Defending Human Rights and Freedoms, also known as HOOD, called on the speaker of Parliament and its members to discuss the Ra'ash issue and investigate the violations against them by forming a fact-finding committee.

HOOD's statement further noted that such violations run counter to Islamic norms, together with other legal and constitutional principles. The statement also pointed out that Sheikh Mansour's militia attacked villagers who camped for seven days in a deserted area approximately an hour's walk from their village. They sought to make a political statement to protest the sheikh's continual mistreatment and violations against them, implying that they couldn't bear it any longer and asking concerned authorities to curb such violations.