Revenge in “Ahwar” Province [Archives:2004/743/Culture]

June 3 2004

Aden Bureau
Ahwar Province is considered one of the most important provinces in Abyan governorate since it has fertile arable lands and it is famous for growing first grade long staple cotton, watermelon, red pepper and other legumes. Most of its inhabitants are fishermen since it is situated adjacent to the Arab Sea coastline, extending to Hadramout.
Ahwar Province awaits a prosperous economic future, especially since the coast road between Aden and Hadramout, being improved by Bin Ladin Group, goes through the center of the province. The constant traffic and transport of goods will definitely lead to its economic revival.
However, Ahwar Province continues to suffer from revenge related cases that date back to 10s of years ago, and is crippled by recent revenge cases that have become a major concern for citizens.
Yemen Times paid a visit to examine revenge cases and how they could be settled or resolved.

The road to Ahwar:
Ahwar Province is located 180 KM from Zenjubar, the capital of Abyan. Upon the arrival, Yemen Times began interviewing several social dignitaries to get more into about the revenge cases that have distorted the reputation of Yemen.
Mr. Mohamed Ali Mashhour, a Member of Parliament and a social dignitary in the province confirmed that revenge cases are widespread in the province. “Serious efforts have been made with tribes and social figures to curtail the problem before it gets out of hand and to come out of the vengeance quagmire, which has negatively effected the economic and investment situation in Yemen in general”, said Mr. Mashhour. He added that the tribes have agreed to prevent the carrying of weapons and entry of arms into the province and inside markets.
“The visitors' arms would have to be deposited at the security checkpoint on the outskirts of the province before entering the province and to be returned back to them on their way out of the province. In the event of a violation this agreement, the weapons will be confiscated and or the perpetrator will be fined”, said the Member of Parliament.
However, the roles of the security and judiciary authorities in the province must be enhanced, and the cases related to arable lands must be resolved and returned to their lawful owners since many of the revenge cases are related to this single issue.
“All revenge related cases must be settled, especially a recent case when two citizens were killed inside the marketplace, and the tribes have agreed to confiscating the perpetrator's 10 million Riyals worth of watermelon harvest”, said Mr. Mohamed.
The MP pointed out that Ahwar is considered the land of opportunity for many cotton growers and farmers who also come from nearby provinces because of its fertile lands. He said that the recent visit of President Saleh has boosted the efforts to build more water barriers and dams to use floods for irrigation, in addition to the President's instruction to establish a training center for fishermen so that Ahwar's citizens would get the most benefit from the fisheries industry. The Mr. Mashhour concluded his statement by confirming that the elimination of vengeance cases would provide a new push to establish development projects and to revive stalemated ones.
Mr. Awadh Al-Dowain, President of the Agricultural Cotton Association, said that the mentality of vengeance and taking the law into one's own hands must be rooted out. The vengeance cases are hampering the development of the country, in addition to threatening the social and ethical systems of society. Mr. Awadh pointed out that the issue of vengeance was eliminated in the past in Ahwar, but the difficult economic situations of many citizens, the unemployment of many others, and the inadequate measures to deter and to punish the perpetrators by the security apparatus and to bring them to justice have encouraged many citizens to remember and to dig up past vengeance issues.
“The absence of deterrents and tangible solutions to disputes between land owners and farmers has led to a widening of the vengeance case terribly”, said Mr. Awadh.
He added that the state must bear the responsibility to provide security and stability to all citizens, to implement effective laws, and to hold violators liable and accountable. The state's prestige and veneration must be respected and observed. The role of the judiciary, marginalized in Ahwar, must be enhanced and strengthened. The various media organizations must contribute effectively to awareness campaigns on the negative social and economic impacts on all citizens and the country from sustaining vengeance cases.
“The government could eradicate the phenomenon of vengeance in Yemen since the partitioning of the country was also eradicated”, said hopeful Mr. Awadh.
Another social dignitary who expressed his views about the vengeance issue was Mr. Abdulah Baba, who said, “In the past, vengeance was not as common as today. There were strict laws in place against the spread of this phenomenon. But today, the increase of the population and illiteracy, especially in rural areas including Ahwar with a 75% illiteracy rate, have provided conditions for vengeance to flourish. The phenomenon can only be confronted through the collective efforts of all citizens with the state and the implementation of justice for all”.