As Yemen Minister of Religious Endowments and Guidance, Hamoud Abad announced the launch of a national anti-corruption campaign, entitled, “Together to fight all forms and types of ill-gotten gains,” one activist is fighting alone against injustice, overpowered and outnumbered for those who ought to support him, have instead deserted him.
Mogib Hassan, a prominent rights activist, journalist and poet from Yemen has been fighting to see his country’s most corrupt answer to their crimes before a court of law, in line with popular calls for justice and state officials’ claims that Yemen had buried its shady past.
It is his belief that justice must prevail at whatever cost which has spurred him to suffer utmost hardship – physical and psychological violence –
Mogib Hassan, was called to sit on Yemen Looted Funds Recovery body, AWAM, back in 2013 as a liaison officer. His work essentially involved keeping Yemen’s foreign partners aware of whatever progress AWAM had managed to make in lifting the veil on some of Yemen’s most corrupt officials and dignitaries, including former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
While former President Saleh and most of his supporters have continuously claimed never to have embezzled public funds, or even benefited in whatever way, shape or form, from their position to financially forward their interests, Saleh’s vast fortune and that of his closest aides have remained a subject of deep contention.
Because Mogib has been relentlessly gathering information on former President Saleh’s financial dealings in order to blow open Yemen’s corruption box, Mogib has seen his life turn upside down. Threatened and hunted down by a powerful criminal ring, Mogib has been left to fend for himself.
Like many other activists, Mogib found that no official, dignitary, tribal chief or foreign authority has deigned extend him a helping hand or offer him protection, expect maybe for Human Rights Minister Hooria Mashhour, but her reach has been limited.
Mogib has now reached out to several officials and organizations, such as PEN, Yemen Freedom House, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Tawakkul Karman; but their response was deafening silence. To date no organization, group, faction or government official in Yemen has offered Mogib any form of protection, never mind guaranteeing his protection.
Mogib recalled how guns-for-hires were told where his residence was. “They were told, “This is Mogib Hassan’s house, he is a Yemeni journalist working with AWAM to see expose President Saleh [former President Ali Abdullah Saleh]He is working with foreign media agencies to expose high ranking officials, he needs to be made to stop digging.””
Mogib, who has managed to stay one step ahead of his persecutors by utilizing his contacts and sources within the security apparatus, is fast running out of option. While many have advised him to leave given his predicament, among whom Yemen former Foreign Minister Abdel-Kareem Al Iryani, Mogib wants to stay put and serve his mandate on AWAM.
If Mogib has been able to document all assaults, attempted kidnappings and other attacks on his person, the authorities have failed to use such evidence to instigate a thorough enquiry, instead officials have tried to destroy evidences.
Even though Mogib has provided police with car number plates and names, even though such names and evidences could actually be traced back to well-known outlaws, the interior ministry has yet to call for an official investigation, such are those men’s pull and influence.
Of the 12 names he put forward to the police, only seven were called in for interrogation. Key evidences were either destroyed or confiscated; Mogib virtually no chance to win his case.
“What am I meant to do when the judicial is fighting against me? Yemen has not changed one bit since the revolution. It is the same corrupt and flawed system … the powerful and the connected rule all mighty as we, the people of Yemen, are left to feel the bite of injustice.
Ahmed Al Odeemy, Mogib’s attorney confirmed that “powerful and well-connected people have made a series of threat against his client, warning that should he continue to pursue the matter, harm would come to him. “Our main issue is that the very men we seek to bring to justice are former security officers from the Central Security Forces affiliated to former President Saleh,” said Al Odeemy.
As Mogib explains, “All I ever wanted is to force officials to answer to their crimes … I just want my country to experience justice and heal … that is all. If believing in fairness and equity make me a fool, then I must be the biggest fool of all.”