Photo by Maram Alabassi
The National Commission for the Welfare and Rehabilitation of Detainees held a press conference in Sana’a on 29 January, sponsored by the Yemeni human rights organization, HOOD.
This month marks 2 years since the beginning of the political uprising. Thousands of people were killed, injured, arrested or disappeared during the revolution.
Ahmed Alamri’s brother, Abdullah, disappeared on 19 September 2011. He took a wounded man to Aljamhori Hospital and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
There are at least 22 cases of enforced disappearance regarding revolutionaries from Yemen’s Arab Spring, according to human rights groups.
Abu Bakr Ayash, a former detainee, says he was tortured in prison.
“We were beaten with everything; we were humiliated – all kinds of physical torture was carried out. I will never stop resisting and demanding for the freedom of the other detainees.”
Organizer of the conference and former detainee, Hemiar AlMoqbli, was tied from the ceiling for 24 hours in one of the national security prisons.
“This commission aims at rehabilitation and protection of the released detainees and freedom for those still in prison,” AlMoqbli said.
Torture can be physical or psychological, though many experts say both kinds have similar psychological effects. No compensation or rehabilitation is available to them, said AlMoqbli.
“This commission was founded by former detainees and will be led by them until all detainees are freed and given all of their rights,” he said.
Another former detainee, Mohammed AlMatari, said the new political institutions the revolution made possible have not benefited him.
“We revolted and resisted injustice only to be wronged by the new government, which we expected to fight for the ideals of the revolution. They have forgotten all about us,” AlMatari said.
The commission demanded clear answers from the government regarding the whereabouts of the disappeared detainees in addition to their freedom. Aside from government prisons, some sheikhs have their own prisons, commission co-founder Lamia’a AlAdemi said.
The issue of detainees and enforced disappearances must be discussed in the National Dialogue Conference, co-founder Ali AlBokari said.
The commission has filed claims and complaints with numerous governmental institutions, including the Human Rights Ministry and the Prime Minister’s office. No response, positive or negative, has been given.
AlMatari said that peace, freedom, justice and equality were what the revolution was fought for and that the heroes of the revolution are the ones suffering.
“This is not what we had hoped for.”