To the free world:Please act! [Archives:2004/789/Viewpoint]

November 11 2004

The front page story of last edition on the beating up of journalist Abdulkareem Al-Khaiwani in the central prison in Sana'a is a sign that his life is in severe danger. I use my column to cry to the world, through honorable ambassadors in Yemen to act, and act quickly! If it is inhuman to treat a criminal who committed murder in such a way, treating a writer in such a manner is even graver and more outrageous!
It is true that a number of international protests by organizations and individuals from the world have poured to the desks of the President and the Foreign Minister. But it seems that this is not enough. Our government needs to be informed that what it is doing is wrong, and needs to be accountable for it!
This is why I call upon every person with influence to act along with us to save the life of Al-Khaiwani and his career. If it is not for his own self, let it be for his children and family! He doesn't deserve to die in such a horrific way at the central prison in Sana'a.
Ambassadors of developed countries in Yemen can at least express concern and show that they are aware of what is going on to Al-Khaiwani, who is now symbolizing a crossroads for Yemen's future, either to more democracy if he is freed, or to a collapse of democracy if he is kept behind bars.
I know diplomacy and protocols make it inappropriate for an ambassador to ask the government or regime of another country to release a prisoner. But the case here is different. This is a human being, and human rights are something that developed countries have been calling for over and over again. There were incidents in the past in which ambassadors expressed concern about human rights violations and other negative phenomenon, and I am sure they agree with me that this is an unprecedented violation of human rights that needs a firm stance.
Certainly, those ambassadors are keen to help, but are reluctant to act without the endorsement of their countries. But through this letter I want them to consult their conscience and send a fax or a letter to, arrange for a meeting with, or at least make a phone call to the decision-makers and ask them about Al-Khaiwani.
If I have to plead to the conscience of those ambassadors, I will be willing to do. I know what is in stake here. As the free press, we are indeed in a crisis, and we realize how catastrophic the situation could be if we don't act.
So, once again, I call upon representatives of the free and developed world to speak up and show that they care. A small word from any ambassador would make a big difference for us.
If ambassadors act firmly and stand by the free press and reformists like us who want to change the situation around us, then they will always be honored for their noble role. They would be satisfied that they did what they were supposed to even if Al-Khaiwani dies of torture or beating.
But if they don't act at all and Al-Khaiwani passes away or is kept under such a situation, then they would feel the guilt for the rest of their lives. It is a duty and a responsibility because they know that the government can only listen to them and may not at all take local voices crying for justice into consideration.
A final word to the ambassadors in question is this: Please, please stand by us at this time and show that you care. It is a critical time that a requires action to save the life of a journalist who was thrown to prison for reasons that no lawyer on earth agrees on, and was prevented from having a lawyer all this time. His life is under tremendous threat and he still has hope in that he would celebrate eid with his family.
I call upon you to realize the strife, and help us achieve a more democratic Yemen that appreciates and values freedom of expression.
This is an opportunity to prove your sincerity and love to Yemen and its people.
Please, please seize it!