Funeral for police torture victim draws thousands in southern Yemen
Thousands of Southern Yemenis marched in the funeral Monday of 28 year old Fares Zaid al Tamah, who died in police custody in Aden on January 30. Mr. al Tamah was allegedly tortured to death in the latest incident of escalating government violence against activists and protesters in Yemen.
Separatist sentiment is running high in southern Yemen where 70% of residents favor dissolution of the unified state. Activists claim they have been illegally occupied since 1994’s civil war while southern oil deposits and land were looted by the tribesmen and relatives of northern President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The deceased was arrested in Abyan in his Landcruiser, his relatives said, while he was listening to an audio of the singer Aboud Khawaga, whose material often includes political themes.
Mr. al Tamah was killed following three days of torture, activists allege. He was hung from the ceiling upside down for 12 hours, burnt with cigar butts and shocked with electricity, other prisoners in the Malla police station reported. On January 30, Mr. al Tamah was found dead on the floor in a pool of blood by visitors. His family reported that his body showed signs of torture.
Stretching for miles, the funeral march began at Aljamohria hospital in Aden and concluded at the southern martyrs cemetery Radfan, Lahj . Mr. Al Tamah was buried alongside dozens of other southerners killed by Yemeni security forces.
Protests began in 2007 calling for equal rights and political inclusion and were met by mass arrests. Dozens of unarmed protesters have been killed by police in southern Yemen, Human Rights Watch found. A pattern of wide spread and brutal abuses characterized the state’s response to the growing protests, triggering a spiral of “repression, protests, and more repression.”
A report issued by a southern activist last week detailed 147 civilians killed by Yemeni security forces in the last year.
In November, Amnesty International issued a statement noting that “torture and other ill-treatment are widespread practices in Yemen and are committed, generally with impunity, against both detainees held in connection with politically motivated acts or protests and ordinary criminal suspects. Methods of torture and other ill-treatment are reported to include beatings all over the body with sticks, rifle butts, punching, kicking, prolonged suspension by the wrists or ankles, burning with cigarettes, being stripped naked, denial of food and prompt access to medical help, as well as threats of sexual abuse.”
HOOD, a leading Yemeni civil rights advocacy group in Yemen, disclosed this week that it had obtained video evidence of prisoner torture at the Criminal Investigation Prison in Taiz province. Ammar al-Tayar, 23 years old, was in custody of the Shar’ab al-Salam Security after a family dispute on January 16, 2010. Al-Tayar alleged he was subjected to beatings, electric shock and burning at the prison by three men while he was blindfolded. The video tape revealed scars and other indications of the torture, which were on his upper region of the shoulders, back, fingers and different parts of his body.
The UN’s Committee against Torture found the “widespread practice of torture and ill-treatment” in Yemen. Yemen failed to appear as requested at the UN Committee’s examination.
Journalist Mohammed al Maqaleh described his four months of torture to a union representative in February as including severe beatings, mock executions and starvation. Amnesty International has repeatedly issued statements warning that southern editors Hasham, Hani and Mohammed Bashraheel are at risk of severe torture since their “arrest” in January.