Solution Brokered over 3 Months: Mansour Rajih: Out of Jail and… Out of the Country! [Archives:1998/06/Front Page]

February 9 1998

Finally, the internationally renowned Mansoor Rajih is out of prison. He left Yemen on KLM’s flight on Sunday 8th February on his way to Stavinger,  Norway. That was the fruit of hard and continuous efforts. On the occasion, the Human Rights, Liberties, and NGOs Committee of the Consultative Council, centerpiece to the whole effort,  issued a statement.
“For nearly six months, the Committee exerted efforts to secure the release of Mr.  Mansoor Rajih. On February 8th, the Committee finally achieved that goal.” Once it took charge of Mr. Rajih, the Committee immediately made arrangements for his departure the next day. The statement stressed the positive roles of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, CC Chairman Abdulaziz Abdulghani, Foreign Minister Dr. Abdul-Karim Al-Iryani, the Norwegian Consul in Yemen and Abdul-Wassa Hayel Saeed and many others.
Mr. Rajih, was imprisoned in 1983, following the murder of Sheikh Ahmed Abdo Al-Sarari. Rajih was an anti-government political activist who supported the guerrilla activities of the Marxist National Democratic Front, which ravaged many parts of Ibb, Al-Baidha and Taiz governorates. The NDF was supported by the Yemen Socialist Party (YSP), then ruling the southern part of the country. Sheikh Al-Sarari, one of the pillars of the regime in the region and a staunch supporter of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, stood against the infiltration of the guerrilla activities in his region – Mawiyah.

The trial of Mansour Rajih went through many phases. At the end , however, the primary court of Taiz, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court found enough evidence to pass the death sentence on him. But the trial was plagued with irregularities, given the political climate of the time.
The trial took place in the 1980s, and the courts finished their sentences by 1989.
The execution of the death sentence in Yemen requires approval of the Minister of Justice, the Prime Minister, and the President of the Republic.

In the united government which followed the re-unification of Yemen in 1990, Mr. Abdul-Wassa Sallam was the Minister of Justice, and Mr. Haidar Al-Attas was the Prime Minister – both YSP officials. It is ironic that the death sentence of Mansour Rajih, a well-known YSP protege, was approved by those two key YSP officials, and was blocked by President Ali Abdullah Saleh, against whom Rajih had worked.

Mr. Rajih is going to live for the foreseeable future in Norway, a country which has granted him political asylum. He and his wife, Afrah, left Yemen for Stavinger. They will actually start their marriage there, as Mansour was snatched only a couple of weeks into his married life. Afrah has waited for him for 15 years.

The blood heirs in the case finally decided to relent, given the pressure from all sides. The Human Rights Committee of the Consultative Council has enlisted the service of many relatives and friends of the family to make the blood heirs respond to its request.

The European countries, individually and collectively, have brought much pressure  on Yemen to bring an end to this matter. Many observers agree it is not an open  and shut  case. There is a crime, and there are political overtones.
“But whatever the case, the man has served a prison sentence of 15 years. That takes care of whatever his role had been in the crime,” said one EU ambassador.

The Human Rights Committee in its statement on the occasion, stressed the need to protect and observe human rights. This is a yardstick for civilized societies. It also re-affirmed its commitment to work diligently to fight abuse and violations.
“We are basically asking people to honor the law of the land,” said Prof. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf, the committee chairman. “Actions will be measured against the stipulations of the law,” he added.