When Will The Big Guys be Held Accountable? [Archives:1999/34/Focus]

August 23 1999

By: Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi,
Managing Editor, Yemen Times
I believe we all still remember the massacre and catastrophic incident of Luxur in Egypt in 1997 when some terrorists charred a bus carrying a number of tourists from different countries. That heinous action broke the hell loose and drove the Egyptian leadership nuts. The Egyptian immediate reaction towards it was stiff and wise at the same time. The Egyptian Minister of Interior was discharged and high-level and accurate investigations were conducted to find out the perpetrators and the shortcomings on the part of the Egyptian police department. Accordingly, a drastic change in this department took place. Another interesting story happened also in Egypt sometime ago. The Egyptian president Mr. Mubarak was very upset and furious due to the failure of the Egyptian football team against the Saudi team. Furthermore, he called for an investigation to know the heart of the matter. The technical department of the national football team also resigned as a result.
Unfortunately, in Yemen seldom do such courageous actions take place. So many of such infringements of law and order have been visibly observed. So many corrupt and crook officials have been caught with their pants down, but what is the result? NOTHING. Yes, nothing. One wonders why.
I believe the absence of the factor of accountability is the major reason behind the chaos and disorder overwhelming the country. Punishment is more or less not existing. Rather, the more one is outlaw and perpetrator, the more he gets promoted and higher position.
The Bab Al-Yemen terrible crime that happened recently was good enough to bring the Minister of Interior and his officials accountable. The murderer has been arrested by the policemen. That is fine. The Ministry of Interior issued a report after the incident stating that the murderer is mentally diseased and he is nuts. How come? Is it irrational that a mad person can carry a bomb and a gun machine and goes wherever he wants in the streets of the capital of the country? It is confusing, isn’t it? The Minister should have resigned since his ministry has proved failure in bringing harmony and stability to the society. The event should have made the whole cabinet restless, but nothing happened as if it doesn’t matter.
Killings and murders have become a daily routine in the Yemeni society. Almost everyday a homicide incident is reported in the capital Sanaa. The recklessness of the sons of the influential people has become intolerable. They murder in the streets and are protected by their fathers or relatives. The traffic policemen are from time to time targets of such outlaw people. I think the ministry of interior is to be responsible for the sense of insecurity and instability in the country. People really feel afraid of the influential figures in the society and their irresponsible behavior. Imagine, one of the sons of the dignitaries in the society wanted once to lure a girl walking on the street and pick her up to his car. But she refused.
The man felt insulted because he considers himself someone.
Therefore, he took off his gun and shot her down and run away. Everybody knows that he is the murderer. However, he was not even investigated. Something staggering, isn’t it?
The main business of the police is to tease the opinion makers and journalists in the country. Every now and then, we hear about the harassments and arresting of journalists. An example of the hard times faced by journalists is that two journalists have filed cases against the Minister of Interior, an indication that freedom of the press is backsliding. Policemen are meant to protect the people. However, they have even become a constant source of threat and menace. I believe the political security office can be very instrumental and effective in improving the security situation in the country.
We also find that these policemen have their eyes peeled when they tease people walking on streets or strolling in parks or wherever else. I think if they do the same to protect the safety of the people, almost murder or homicide reports will gradually go down. Unfortunately, they are working against the people. It is this security situation that gives a clue whether the government is strong enough to safeguard the interests of its people or fragile and can do nothing to bring them harmony and peace.
More cynically, the official reports always laud the security situation describing it as excellent. This is our fault which is that we don’t confess our mistakes and accordingly try to avoid them in the future. It is time that we stop such behavior and try to convey the real situation. It is a matter of courage, isn’t it?