SILVER LININGThe consequences of government indifference [Archives:2007/1070/Opinion]

July 23 2007

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
I am really concerned about the situation in Yemen. What is happening in Yemen these days seems worrying. There has been a war in Sa'ada and the breakdown of the truce is potential; there are several problems in the southern governorates of Shabwa, Abyan, Dhal'e, and Aden which might turn into a real insurgency. The question of the southern retired military officers is not yet sorted out and might exacerbate as they are planning some more protests. The economic conditions of the people are getting worse and worse due to constant price hikes. Some influential figures are robbing some people their pieces of land and sometimes their lives. Tribal feuds are on the rise.

However, the cronies around the president try their best to hide such a reality and make the man feels such disturbances here and there are carried out by mercenary people whose main goal is to split the country. The retired military officers who were dismissed of their jobs after the 1994 civil war are now treacherous and their goal is to split the country when they ask for the respect of their rights. Similarly, the journalists and human rights activists who organized a protest last Tuesday in front of the government premises were harassed by unidentified people. The socialist party is facing the ready charge of treason over the 1994 separation attempt when its media is being critical to such a deteriorating situation.

Regardless of their motives, angry people have the right to protest against the government policy or anybody else as long as they are not violating the law. The retired soldiers and everybody have the right to go to the street and stage demonstrations as long as the government is not moving to address their problems.

Why does the government negotiate peace with the armed rebels and accept their conditions for ceasefire while it gives a blind eye to the questions of the people protesting peacefully. Why does it conduct truce with the al-Houthi and his supporters in Sa'ada while it fabricates charges for the journalist Abdulakrim al-Kaiwani of having links with the rebels and is being tried before the state security court? Does the government want the retired soldiers or journalists or whatsoever to use force to get their demands met?

Retrospectively, I, like many other people, warned against the indifference of the government towards the plight of al-Ja'ashin citizens harassed by their influential sheikh in Ibb. The people sought the support of the constitutional institution to put an end to their problems. Unfortunately, the government and even the parliament let them down. It is really hazardous that people lose heart in the competence and reverence of the state, lose faith in the law and order. In this case, they take the law into their hands and then the law of the jungle prevails. If the government continues to act heedlessly towards the people's problems, I understand the consequences will be grave and price will be very high. Beware guys!

Last week, The Arab Sisters Forum for Human Rights horned a number of human-rights-abuse victims as well as al-Nidaa independent weekly for its ice-breaker role in reporting the question of poor prisoners who were kept in jail for several years for nothing but their difficulty in paying their fines. Among those prisoners the newspaper helped to get free is Abdu Sho'ee who was jailed for 17 years. He was sentenced to 7 years and because he had no money to pay fines, he was forgotten for 10 more years. What a shame? The 60-year-old man has lost his family as well as his housing and is now starting his quest for a new life. Who is to be held accountable for this?

Mohammed Al-Qadhi ([email protected]) is a Yemeni journalist and columnist.