Aden: Systematic assassinations and enforced disappearance of moderate clerics

Aden: Systematic assassinations and enforced disappearance of moderate clerics

Zakaria Mohammed Qasem, a famous social dignitary in his hometown Mualla in the interim capital Aden, was, as usual, going to the mosque for the Dawn Prayer on 27 January. A Hyundai Santa Fe car with tainted glasses and four masked gunmen around it were on lying in wait for him, however.

The gunmen started a surprise severe assault of Zakaria with rifle butts, shot fire upward and scared away onlookers who wanted to subdue the gunmen as they forced him into the car and roared away.

A few days later his relatives learnt that he is in the Security Forces jail. His family has been worn out by the anguish and anxiety about him.

He and his family don't know why he was arrested, so they approached the top security official in Aden, Shallal Shaye'a. He promised to "resolve" his case and so far nothing has happened, as he is still in jail for no reason.

Zakaria's family have resorted to human rights organizations to help them solicit an explanation of the reason for Zakaria's arrest and to pressure for ending his arbitrary detention.

The past months saw a wave of assassinations, by masked assailants, against moderate clerics, dignitaries and also members of the Yemen Congregation for Reform "Islah" party in the city.

The latest such case was the Shawqi Mohammad Muqbel Komadi a member of the Islah executive office and a widely popular moderate cleric in Aden on Tuesday 13 February.

The crime triggered boiling sentiments of hundreds who attended  his funeral and lamented his assassination as a "terrorist act."

The systematic efforts to give militias free reign in Aden to undermine political action and terrorize the city's tolerant clerics and political activists seems like a deliberate scheme that aims to pave the way and create a vacuum for extremists.

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