Ongoing Hunger Strike In PSO Prison, Yemen
- Sunday, 19 May 2013
- - Written by: Radhia Khairan
Exactly 29 days have passed since the inmates of the Political Security Office (PSO) prison in Sana'a began their hunger strike. Dozens of the inmates have been on a collective hunger strike and have refused family visitations since 20 April 2013. However, the hunger strike of PSO inmates has been met with both popular ignorance and official negligence. The position of the governmentmanifestsatroubling disregard for the value of human life, HOOD says in its statement to the General Prosecutor, Dr. Ali Al-Awash.
It was the ill-treatment the political inmates received in prison that caused them to reject food and weekly visitations. This ill-treatment included: allowing access to the bathroom only once a day; putting rusty chains on the hands and legs of the detainees; refusing the release of those already acquitted by court orders or having already served their terms; or demanding monetary guarantees from inmates’ families to secure their release—which probably constituted an unbearable burden for most families—and, despite the families’ cooperation, the PSO's refusal to release the inmate.
HOOD holds the General Prosecutor responsible for the ongoing hunger strikes of the political inmates. The General Prosecutor is fully accountable for the consequences of its negligence of applying law and its ignorance of violations of citizens' rights by security forces without any legal justification.
A prosecution committee should be mandated to search the Political Security detention facilities and either set free all those who were illegally arrested and detained for more than 24 hours or refer them to a court (if they are deemed suspects ina criminal investigation), but their legal rights must be respected, HOOD said in a statement to the General Prosecutor on 28 April, 2013. Moreover, HOOD urges the prosecution to investigate the PSO leadership in regard to confinement and deprivation of liberty and their refusalto execute court-mandated orders of acquittal, and to refer their criminal files to the competent judicial authorities.
Upon the receipt of HOOD’s report, the general prosecutor ordered the Specialized Criminal Prosecution to move immediately to the PSO prison and address the matter of ongoing PSO violations of law and illegal arrests of citizens. Ostensibly, his office has made no attempt to pursue the issue further--nothing has been heard from the prosecution since the initial call for an investigation.
The families of these prisoners expressed their deep concernover the deteriorating health of their sons and their frustration at the Yemeni authorities’simultaneous refusal to respond to their demands and issuanceof thinly-veiled threats directed against them, Al-Karama, an international foundation devoted to Human Rights, says in a statement.
Al-Karama received many complaints from some of the prisoners' families, urging that their loved ones be hospitalized due to serious health complications resulting from the hunger strike. However, the prison administration rejected their humanitarian appeal and threatened the use of riot forces to attack the inmates in an attempt to end their strike by force.
Al-Karama therefore shares the concerns of the families over the possibility of the aggressive measures threatened by the Political Security officials against the prisoners. There is ample justification for their concern: the prison administration employed violent attacks against the prisoners in a similar situation on 6 Feb. 2011.
As an ally in the US war against terrorism over the past several years, the Yemeni security authorities have arrested and kidnapped dozens of people in Sana’a and other governorates with suspected links to Al-Qaeda.