Sunday, January 01, 2006

More Kidnappings in Yemen

Just as the kidnapping ordeal of a former German ambassador and his family comes to a peaceful end in Yemen, five Italians are kidnapped. The kidnappers are disenfranchised tribesmen, who are effectively excluded from the political system (because they comprise the greatest potential check on Yemeni President Saleh’s authority). Lacking a functional judiciary, many kidnappings occur to effect the release of family members held without trial by the regime.

According to News Yemen, via the independent Yemen Times,
Five Italian tourists were kidnapped today at noon in the Serwah district of Mareb, in the same day President Saleh received the five German hostages released yesterday.

The sources added that the tribesmen who kidnapped the tourists belong to the Jahm tribe and demanded from the central government to release eight fellow tribesmen from Yemeni jails.
What is often not reported is the practice of hostage taking when perpetrated by the regime itself. As a method of intimidation and retribution, the regime often kidnaps young siblings (age 14 and under) of reformers. Adult hostages are held in governmental prison without trial at the behest of influential persons connected to the regime. Many influential sheiks have private prisons. Taking hostages to be used as bargaining chips by tribesmen is deplorable, and the taking of hostages by the regime is on a higher scale of injustice.

For more information on the lack of basic services in tribal areas and throughout the country, massive corruption, and the anti-democratic practices of the Yemeni regime, see my latest article in the Yemen Times here.