While hundreds of prisoners remain detained without trial or formal charges:AI appeals: Save human rights in Yemen [Archives:2004/728/Front Page]

April 12 2004

Amnesty International (AI) in Cooperation with the National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms (NODRF) have concluded yesterday their seminar entitled “Human Rights for All” with a statement demanding to save human rights in Yemen and the region.

Terry Waite speaks
The major speaker in the event was Terry Waite, the prominent British human rights activist who delivered a speech on the first day in which he tackled the issue of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners, events in Iraq and Palestine, and the repercussions of the war on terror. He emphasized the need to look into the source of the problem rather than trying to solve it using excessive force.
“I am not an Anti-American in any way. But I cannot but express my disappointment at the way this mighty power has been running its international affairs lately.” he said.
“This US administration has brought about the new saying of 'if you are not with us, you are against us' which is a basic violation of human rights.”
During the first session of the seminar, NODRF Chairman Mohammed Naji Allaw stressed on the need to end the human rights violations that are taking place in Yemen, including the imprisonment of hundreds of detainees in violation of the constitution and law. “Those detainees are kept in the cells of the Political Security Organization without any formal accusation. This contradicts the spirit and demands of conferences held in Yemen under the motto of democracy, freedom, and human rights.” he said.
Mr. Allaw added that “Several years have past for tens of prisoners since they were first detained and they have been deprived from their human right of being tried, whether a just or unjust trial.”
“The issue of the war on terror has become the justification used by the Yemeni government to take hundreds of innocent people to prison without regard to their basic rights, such as access to a lawyer and a fair trial. This has taken place due to US and Western pressure to act, under threats of reduced access to aid and loans. This is the stick and carrot method, and it is causing a lot of oppression in the country.”

US administration blasted
The seminar discussed various issues concerning human rights violations in the region and the world, and specifically targeted the issue of double standards applied by the USA throughout the world. The participants exposed the difference in treatment of the USA of different countries based on their loyalty to the US Government. The atrocities taking place in Iraq at present were also pointed out and during discussion sessions several speakers blasted the way the US has handled the issue of Iraq. “How can we expect that the USA will bring freedom and democracy when it is using excessive force in killing civilians in their own homes after occupying their country?” one of the attendees asked.
The pro-Israeli actions of the USA have also been the focus of many attendees, who asked why the USA is turning a blind eye to Israeli atrocities against Palestinians and never mentioning them in its human rights reports, while criticizing other less radical governments of minor human rights violations that might or might not be true.

Guantanamo prisoners
The seminar was also attended by some family members Yemenis currently held in Guantanamo. Some have expressed outrage and anger at the USA for imprisoning this number of people and treating them inhumanely without having bringing any charges against them. The ignorance of US citizens was also pointed out as Terry Waite said that ironically, most Americans think that prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are already guilty and that is, according to Mr. Waite, due to the way communications and media are run in the USA.
All speakers concentrated on the need to pressurize the US Government to revise its global way of dealing with other countries, to abandon its double standard policy, and to educate its citizens to be aware and more tolerant of other nations and their cultures and religions.
The seminar was concluded with a common statement requesting governments in the Gulf and Yemen and the region to pay greater attention to human rights and not bow to external pressure in the scope of the war on terror in a way that would damage the rights and freedoms of citizens.
The event was attended by intellectuals, lawyers, human rights activists, politicians, and journalists.