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Yemeni Political Prisoner in Maldives Dies Without Fair Trial

2nd August 2020 is a dark day for human rights in the Maldives. A Yemeni political prisoner who was arrested in Maldives directly on the request of Saudi government has died. He was arrested and not given a chance to a fair and transparent trial, and now has died in custody after 3 years of slow and painful death away from his Maldivian wife and child.

A Maldivian family has been robbed of their family member due to the downward trend of Maldivian politics being influenced by undemocratic countries like Saudi Arabia. Many thought that once the new government led by the Maldivian Democratic Party comes to power, he would be released or atleast given a chance to defend himself under a court of law. However this did not happen as the new government too threw out human rights in favour of oil money.

Instead of me telling you their story, let me share the appeal letter that I and the family had made together on 11th October 2019, to send to international human rights NGOs to create awareness of this crime against an innocent man, a loving husband and a father.

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Dear Sir/Madam

We are from the family of Yasir Yahya Saleh would like appeal for his human rights under international law. His rights as an individual, a husband and a father is being violated by the Maldives institutions from the day of his arrest (3rd March 2017) during the last government’s term.

On 1st Feb 2017 Yasir was asked by Immigration with the presence of Police officials as well, to leave the country within a month without a reason and was asked not to go to media, that was when King of Saudi Arabia scheduled to visit Maldives. During this time, his wife was 7 months pregnant.

As we had no money, Yasir requested to give him more time to get some money and be there until his wife deliver their baby. However, he was arrested after a month.

Yasir got married on 22 july 2014 in Maldives in accordance with Maldivian law, Yasir was working in Ahmadiyya International School as well as Maldives Islamic University as a teacher.

Since the arrest he was denied many rights including private meeting with his wife, even though it is stated in the regulation no: 2016R-34 & 2019/R-1025 section 18 of Maldives Correctional Services to provide minimum 12hrs private time with family every month for every detainee after being held for 14 days in the detention facility.

In this case 2 years 7 months passed without any access to this legal right. This is part of their systematic torture by disconnecting him from family.

Other rights denied to him include; not allowing phone call to the family in Yemen for the past 2 years, but all other detainees were allowed to have mobile phones during their stay in the detention center.

Hygienic food with sufficient nutrition is not provided, the medical reports would prove it. Since he was detained there, he has been having kidney stones, gastritis, pain in the heart, high BP due to the foods containing high amount of oil and curry.

Regardless of the multiple requests by the family, Maldives Immigration has not improved this as they have used his food as mean of torture to make him physically weak and hence is one of the reason for the hunger strike. While all the other detainees are allowed to buy food from the store and eat what they want.

The cell which they keep him is filled with 70 detainees on average this is above the general capacity with no air exhaust or window.

This cell is made of roof tin, this facility is not made for keeping detainees for a longer period according to the Prison commission report conducted in 2018.

However they have been keeping him in this facility for the past 2 years and 7 months. We understand that the new government is trying to improve prison facilities under their election promise, but our appeal is that Yasir should not be in there to begin with.

Yemen is in a state of war as we all know, it maybe a violation to deport him to Yemen according to UN charter even though he is from Yemen, and his Maldivian wife and Maldivian kid being sent to the war torn Yemen will not be acceptable unless we find a way to enter Yemen through family relations.

We have requested our President Mr.Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Minister of Home Affairs Mr. Imran Abdullah on 7th July 2019 to allow Yasir this chance to try to go to Yemen, give him time to arrange everything. Otherwise keep him in home arrest to do this, if the government is unable to send him and his family safely to Yemen. We understand the pressure on the President and Home Minister by the Saudi government that promised to invest in the Maldives for different projects, but we urge them to do the right thing.

It is inhumane, unacceptable, unjust and against any human rights to keep a person without a trial, for an unknown duration separated from family by denying all the human rights. Already 2.5 years for no crimes committed.

In December 2018 as well as in 9th July 2019 we have requested to meet Minister of Home affairs to find a solution to this inhumane treatment of Yasir, to assist the Minister in anyway the family could so that Yasir and family can either go to his home country or if there is any accusations that they should investigate it so that he gets his chance to defend his right to freedom and human rights.

As we have mentioned before, Yasir’s human rights are being violated from the day of his arrest (3rd March 2017 till now) and he has not been taken to a court or given a fair hearing. This is something the family hoped would change with the new government that came into power on the principal of respecting human rights.

So please try to understand that his Maldivian wife needs her husband back and his two-year-old child needs her daddy back. Her father Yasir has been on hunger strike from 26th June 2019 till now (97 days) and his health is getting worse by the day as all the nerves in the arm are blocked now due to 24/7 iv’s and unable to walk, loss of bowl control and infection in the lungs. He won’t last long on hunger strike but the respective institutions are giving a deaf ear to the family.

What we and Yasir don’t understand is why would the government try to disclaim this case? No one can deny that He is a husband of a Maldivian citizen, a father of a Maldivian citizen who is ready to accept a fair and transparent public trial.

The family is very disappointed that his life is in danger due to international politics effecting Maldives. And now due to the Maldives government and Parliament close government to government relations with Saudi Arabia politically, they have made Yasir into their political prisoner. This relations started from the last government when they cut off ties with Qatar on the request of Saudi Arabia and sadly continued after the new government came to power.  We also understand that our speaker of the house and former President Mohamed Nasheed took a Saudi government sponsored private jet trip to Saudi Arabia before the 2018 Presidential innaguration. Hence we understand the special relations that has been continued from last government to the new government. Nevertheless, we urge him and others in the new government to uphold their responsibility of protecting human rights within the sovereign borders of Maldives. By supporting Yasir arrest as a political prisoner, you are also violating the human rights of a Maldivian mother and child, in your own country.

The government has accused Yasir of having links to terrorism, without any type of evidence. This is the same politically motivated accusations that in our country’s history, where political opponents, journalists, or government critics were arrested without any legal rights. And today we are witnessing that our family member Yasir is being punished without a trial, it’s like he is guilty until proven innocent.

Please also understand that because of this conviction it will not be possible to live in any other country as well. We are requesting to investigate the conviction instead of dealing with him like a criminal when he has not committed any crimes under a fair and transparent court.

Therefore, the family of Yasir appeal to you to stop violating Yasir’s human rights and stop your silence on his case. We appeal for you to speak out in support of human rights under the United Nations charter and give Yasir the rights he deserves under international law.

We hope to hear back from you soon.

Thanks and Regards

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International Relations & Security Strategist, International Businessman, Human Rights & Transparency activist, former Senior Member of The Maldivian Democratic Party & close relative to two former Maldivian Presidents.

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