When the State Breaks the Law and Constitution [Archives:1998/40/Front Page]

October 5 1998

It was midnight on Friday, 25th (leading to Saturday morning). Several army/security vehicles mounted with machine guns approached silently. Dozens of young soldiers got ready poised in attack positions.
No, this was not part of military maneuvers in Hadhramaut last week. No, the soldiers were not defending Yemen from foreign aggression.
They were actually on a mission to overwhelm a 45-kilogram pious man to punish him for his Friday sermon. Dr. Al-Murtadha Bin Zaid Al-Muhatwari, in his sermon, said, “The anniversary of the 26th September Revolution requires that we re-assess our conditions. Instead of spending all these resources in extravagant festivities and glorification of the regime, a poor country like Yemen would do well to spend the resources to meet the needs of its people.”
Dr. Al-Murtadha’s family was also dislodged from the house, the mosque/center he heads has been closed down, and the clergyman is still caged inside the Sanaa Investigations Bureau.
The accusation is stupid. The security organs are now saying that Dr. Al-Murtadha preached a return to the pre-Revolutionary Imamic regime. Yemen Times, which has a copy of the tape on which the sermon was registered, did not find anything against the law in it.
Professor Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf, Chairman of the Human Rights Committee at the Consultative Council, personally paid a visit to the jailed man. The guards at the investigations bureau would only let him talk to the prisoner through the window. The prisoner confirmed that he was neither tortured nor abused. “Please tell President Ali Abdullah Saleh that this kind of behavior smears his image as a tolerant ruler. I am sure they must have mis-informed him,” he said.
The event, which was reported to all organizations working on human rights, will give one more proof of the human rights violations in Yemen. Professor Saqqaf wrote to the President asking him to please release the man immediately and to initiate investigations to hold the perpetrators accountable.