The woman who lives in fear of Political Security [Archives:2007/1100/Reportage]

November 5 2007
Harun likes to read and write, but his mother cannot send him to school because she says he might be kidnapped by members of political security
Harun likes to read and write, but his mother cannot send him to school because she says he might be kidnapped by members of political security
Nisreen Shadad
Anisah Al-Shuaibi spent several weeks at the Criminal Investigation Bureau where security officials treated her harshly. She alleges she was raped at another large detention. Nisreen Shadad interviews her regarding life after her imprisonment.

Anisah Al-Shuaibi's only demand is justice. She was accused of killing her husband – who later was found to be alive all along – but she says security authorities still harass her and her two children. In 2006, she was fired from her job as a typist at the Ministry of Interior after working there for 15 years, her monthly salary of approximately YR 20,000 also suspended.

This happened after her ex-husband's mother accused her of killing him. Because of that, she, along with her 10-year-old son and her 9-year-old daughter, were jailed in 2003.

Al-Shuaibi received me in her simple home in Sana'a. Her daughter Reem was well dressed and happy, as it seemed I was one of the few people who had visited them. She and her brother Harun came to me with smiles on their faces, carrying perfume to put on me. The perfume bottles were practically full, apparently not having been used since Eid Al-Fitr perhaps because their relatives hadn't visited them then.

Located in a deserted area, their home was small enough to hear noises at night. Harun began speaking about the ghosts he hears at night: “A week ago, my mother awoke stiffly at around 2 a.m. Subconsciously, she ran outside crying, 'Ya, iyal al-halal!' (Oh, good men!), but no one was outside except the evil spirits.”

Al-Shuaibi entered the room carrying local newspapers that have run stories about her case. While she was presenting the newspapers to me, Reem went to begin preparing a lunch of bread, bringing the flour and water into the sitting room in order to listen to the discussion between her mother and me. She's actually in charge of cleaning the house and preparing lunch because her mother suffers pain in her legs.

Before leaving the house to visit some of their neighbors, Al-Shuaibi noted, “Our neighbors are good; however, the ones whose house is nearest to us moved after numerous political security personnel visited them. They also began to annoy us. During Ramadan, our electricity went out every day and we were the only ones.”

She now believes her neighbor was responsible for that, but fortunately, that neighbor moved on the seventh day of the eid and others rented the house. “They are so charming,” she adds.

Al-Shuaibi and her new neighbor are in the same boat, as both are oppressed and demand justice. “My brother was imprisoned 18 months ago, but there's no evidence against him,” the neighbor recounted, adding, “Man's freedom can be taken so simply, but we can only get it back through difficulty.”

While passing by his house, another neighbor invited Al-Shuaibi and me for lunch. His face was furrowed and wrinkled, his dark brown skin hardened and his clothes were ragged. “There's a lot of food. Come join us,” he beckoned.

Numerous hens ran in front of us as he spoke about their previous neighbor, who lived near Al-Shuaibi's house. “That guy was a magician. He tried to bewitch us.”

“I don't want to be illiterate!”

Al-Shuaibi doesn't send her children to school because she says political security watches them. “They might be kidnapped at anytime. Harun now should be in sixth grade, but because of our past circumstances, he's in third, as well as Reem,” she explains as her daughter declares, “I don't want to be illiterate!”

Additionally, she continued, “During Ramadan, we went to one of the foundations seeking to provide orphans with food during that time. They promised to give to me, but when I went to collect it, they said they couldn't find our names.”

Al-Shuaibi further notes that her friends stopped visiting her after the problems. “Even my stepmother has stopped visiting. I think security authorities are threatening them not to visit me.”

Al-Shuaibi's father was a high-ranking military official and her brothers were officers. Of her four brothers, two died during the 1994 and the other two live abroad.

After her mother died when Al-Shuaibi was very young, her father married another woman. “She adopted me, so I consider her my mother. But now, after these problems, she has deserted me,” she laments.

Married at age 12, Al-Shuaibi had her two children and then completed her education, graduating from high school. Due to her father's influence, she got a job at the Ministry of Interior.

Al-Shuaibi divorced 10 years ago after discovering that her husband and his family were involved in immoral works. Afterward, her former mother-in-law claimed that Al-Shuaibi had killed her ex-husband. “They arrested me at night – without any evidence – and I found myself accused of kidnapping and killing my ex-husband,” she recalls.

She subsequently was imprisoned without a fair trial and endured harsh prison conditions before finally being released after 48 days in captivity. After several weeks, she was cleared due to lack of evidence against her. The whole time, her husband actually was alive in Jamal Jameel Prison of Sana'a city.

Attorneys from Allaw Bar group volunteered to defend Al-Shuaibi's rights. Several times, the accused didn't show up for court; when they finally did, they denied the accusations against them. Al-Shuaibi's lawyers requested the judge suspend the defendants from their positions, maintaining that Al-Shuaibi is at their mercy, but the judge refused.

On Jan. 3 of this year, Amnesty International demanded Al-Shuaibi be protected from the Criminal Investigation Bureau, as her case relates to one of Yemen's influential security apparatuses.