Udain: home of terror [Archives:2002/08/Focus]

February 18 2002

By Sadiq
Its hoped that the governments new Ministry of Human Rights will deal with influential sheiks and others who are running amok carrying out atrocities and human right violations of all kinds in Udain.
I and others also hope that the State Minister of Human Rights will establish good contact with other international human rights organizations and non-governmental organizations to help deal with the terrible abuse of human rights in Yemen in general.
The new ministry has a vital job to do in building awareness of human rights through all the available means.
Udain is a densely-populated region located in the Ibb governorate in the Mid-lands. High illiteracy rates and poverty still play a significant role in the deteriorating situation in Udain.
This part of Yemen badly lack infrastructure projects, as the lack of paved roads, schools and healthcare units further only worsen the human rights situation. There is only one asphalted road in Udain, for example, which links it with Ibb, and this road is in very bad need of fixing.
This isolation, makes it that much easier for Udain to be the scene of many human rights violations. Many people are coming under attack from the influential sheiks in the region or security forces themselves.
Following are just some of the violations which have occurred in the region within the last two years.
Qassem Abdulah Saif, was killed by an armed group in late 1997. The killers are still at large. In the same year the same group killed Ahmed Abdu Murshid al-Zuhairi only three months after the murder of Qassem.
In 1999, while Udain underwent instability in all its districts, armed gangs exchanged fire across the region. They also adopted new means for intimidating people including kidnapping. Armed gangs are very rampant in this area owing to the loose security situation.
Amen Ali Abdulah, 22, was brutally attacked by security force in one of the busiest streets of the district. He was detained and subsequently died in prison. Officials of the prison gave no information about conditions that led to his death. The case was reported by the New York-based Human Rights Watch in its 2000 annual report.
Sabah, a woman belonging to one of the marginalized groups in Yemen called Akhdam (black Yemenis of African origin), was killed under unknown conditions while at the Udain Security prison. Sabah was formerly detained for allegedly improper moral conduct.
The case of Sabah provoked a wide anger as security forces exchanged fire with armed people belonging to influential sheikhs of the region. Both sides accused each other of attempting to settle accounts on this case. Many international human rights advocacy organizations reported this issue.
This area has, in fact, turned to be a safe heaven for many armed gangs operating across the region. People in Udain greatly suffer from the acts of banditry and robbery perpetrated by these bloody gangs.
Private prisoners mainly used by sheikhs are another problem faced by the people of Udain. Human rights organizations and media have highlighted dozens of related cases. President Saleh ultimately ordered the closure and destruction of all prisoners in the region, a step which has been hailed by all human rights organizations. All prisoners were set free, however, new private prisoners have been set up amid the absent of authorities in the area.
Injustice and oppression are inconsistent with all divine religions and international conventions and treaties. Although, Yemen is a signatory of most of the international conventions related to human rights, whats happening in parts of rural Yemen, such as Udain, is intolerable. When, will we get the security to live freely, a right that every human being deserves? And when will we get the infrastructure needed to help keep us in touch with the rest of the country?