Release 21 related to the Jibla incident [Archives:2003/02/Reportage]

January 13 2003

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Security authorities have released last Monday January 6th all those arrested in the Jibla province in direct or indirect connection to the murder of the three American doctors at Jibla Baptist hospital. Sources in the town stated that there were 21 persons in custody and all were set free due to lack of evidence linking them to the crime. The fact that the murderer acquired his weapon from elsewhere and entered the hospital without notice of hospital guards makes it unlikely that town citizens had links with the criminal.
Yemen Times met some of those released and discussed with them the reasons behind their arrest.
Mohammed Mohammed Yihya Al-Massie, 34, Head of the Social Affairs Society of the Jibla Local Council said: “Frankly speaking, we were shocked by the killing incident as much as we were shocked by the chaotic arrest campaign of citizens and me personally!”He added that most of the people arrested were related to the Islah Party or to the Salafia movement (an Islamic fundamentalist sect). Moreover, according to Al-Massie, the investigation was more of a political interrogation than a crime investigation.
“There was no excuse behind my or anyone’s arrest or for that matter. The police seemed to be confused and wondering why they are arresting us, and didn’t know what to ask us. They finally made me sign a vow not to cause any violence or provoke against the state. Although I was not accused of anything and have a clean record, they made me vow in the police office. They also did not direct me to the attorney because they needed a specific crime to accuse me of. But they didn’t have any.”
Othman Abdulwasi’ Al-Silwi, 26, college student said: “At first a soldier came and asked me to report to the security officer. I along with a number of friends went to report to the police office and was told that it was just a normal investigation to find useful information. They said the investigation had nothing to do with the hospital crime. But nevertheless, the ‘normal’ investigation had us waiting in prison for 6 days. No one even spoke a word to us until the sixth day’s morning when I was given the choice to either remain in prison forever or sign a vow of well behavior and to abide by the law!”He added: “I just want to say one thing. The people of Jibla were shocked twice, first when the incident occurred and second with the unjust arrest campaign took place with no reason whatsoever.”Jamal Ali Anzal, 30, Mosque Preacher said: “The case was one of political harassment. It seemed that the police was looking for any excuse to arrest us. They have nothing against me, and the reason they accused me is that I was active in preaching Muslims to abide by their religion and avoid being persuaded by missionaries who wish to convert them. We all know that the punishment in Islam of converting from Islam to any other religion is death.””I was questioned if I had any previous records of any mischief against the state. I was so thoroughly interrogated that the security officer told me that all might be released except me. But when he saw he felt the demand of my people and the whole Jibla community of my release, he let me go.”About the place of custody he said: “The place they kept us was horrible. It was not event suitable to keep animals. The toilets were open and the whole place was underground and was not exposed to sunlight. But I must say that they did not hurt us, and that their questioning was polite and in a proper way.””A final word I want to say is that the state is the one who is responsible for what happened in the hospital because three years ago there was a verdict against the hospital to have it close. The verdict was made after realizing that unlike what many think, the hospital was acting as a missionary center and it was preaching Christianity and trying to convert Muslims to Christians.”Abd Al-Qadir Ali Saeed, 31, teacher: “The arrest was wrong as we are not criminal and can not be accused of a crime we didn’t commit. We stayed in prison for 6 days and no investigation took place until the last day. And this is against the law because the law states that any accused should not be kept in custody without a legitimate reason more than 24 hours. They also took legal vows from all of us without a particular crime. Of course this is natural of the government, because it only wants to save its face in front of the world!”Abdullah Yihya Shamsan, 27, one of Shiekh Hameed Aqeel students said: “Even though authorities know that the murderer was not from Jibla, they arrested this large number of people. Had the murdered been from Jibla, I won’t be surprised if they would take the whole town in custody. Thank god for small mercies! The criminal had no idea about how to behave or what Islam says about treatment of people of the book (Christians and Jews); In Islam, they have a truce from all Muslims that protects their lives and money in a Muslim land, and all religious scholars have agreed that they should be safe in Muslim countries. Prophet Mohammed (pboh) said “He who kills a person with truce will not even reach the smell of heaven and it could be reached from so and so distance.” “And this is the belief of all aware Muslims, and should always be the case.” He added.
In conclusion, the arrest campaign added insult to injury and caused further humiliation for the state which was first unable to prevent the crime from happening because it has no control whatsoever on the carrying and trade of arms, and second because it disturbed the citizens of the town of Jibla by arresting them for days with no excuse.