The last straw…now Yemen will break [Archives:2007/1062/Viewpoint]

June 25 2007

It was the first time Abdulkarim Al-Khaiwani, who is currently detained, opened his heart to me, while we were having lunch together earlier this year. As a fellow journalist, and one who has a vast experience in Yemeni media, talking with Al-Khaiwani's was very useful and interesting. We talked about his journey in politics and how journalism turned out to be a death road for him. I asked him why he doesn't seek political asylum anywhere else in the world. I am sure after what he had gone through he is totally justified to do so. He said: “I feel safer in Yemen.” His logic was that in Yemen, if anything happens to him, because he is a well known person and has been in the focus of media more than once, this gives him immunity in a way. If he went abroad, the risk of being assassinated would be higher as he would be a “nobody on foreign land”.

I still have my reservations against this explanation, and I am sure he does too now. The ruthless security men who attacked him in the night and dragged him from his home in his underwear had a “red color forceful summation order”. This is given when the targeted is a very dangerous criminal, who is likely to resist arrest and open fire on the security. This meant if Al-Khaiwani had resisted his capturers – although I doubt this is possible considering five armed men dragged him from his bed room – they had orders to shoot him dead. Probably that was the intention in the first place. But God's will is to have him still alive so that new chapters for Abdulkarim's sad story will be written.

I can't say for sure if his arrest was against the law, because we don't know the law that much. Because there are written laws and unwritten laws. There are local practices and there are international laws. So it would be really silly to argue that this arrest and the charges of terrorism are illegal, especially with such a lame and corrupt judiciary system. It would also be ridiculous to argue that this is against humanity, because who said political security officers are human in the first place? I saw a hair-raising documentary by the BBC on child soldiers. They explained that children are taken at a very early age and trained to kill. This way their sense of right and wrong and their appreciation of human life are skewed. They have no shame, or doubt that by killing “the enemy” they are doing the right thing. I believe our men and women in the political security forces and now the anti-terrorism unit are somewhat being programmed that way.

There is a message here. It's been a while since a journalist was brutally beaten or imprisoned this way. I know 2007 will be a rough year. This is probably the last straw before something drastic happens and Yemen breaks. Despite the claims, Sa'ada war is not over, and trouble in Abyan is in the horizon. My hand is on my heart thinking who or where it will be next. I fear for many of the brave men and women who are challenging the system and refusing to go with the flow. May God rescue Yemen, and protect its brave and honest men and women. As for the rest, may they all burn in hell.