Rashid called me one hour before our meeting to confirm the location. I hurried and ran out of my home after I hung up the phone. Never realized there is traffic in Sana’a and worse than that, I adjusted to the Yemeni time. I took the da-bab from Tahrir to Hadda and transferred to another one. End up I took the wrong da-bab and I was late.
“Rashid, did you call Murad Sobay immediately when you heard of his campaign “The Wall Remember Their Faces”?
“Yes. When I found out about him, I went after his back,” Rashid smiled.
I asked “Did you hear of the news about Mathar al-Iriani was found in a care home in Hodeida? Did it give your family hope?”
“Of course! When I heard the news, I went to the hospitals and care homes in Hodeidah, Ibb, and Taiz and other cities to look for my father. We don’t know whether he is dead or alive. We just want to know the truth.”
His father, Ahmed Masraba, according to Rasid, was arrested in December 1981 in Dhamar City, in the first conflict called Mathlab – the term used by Dhamar residents referring to the conflict. The Mathlab was mainly a revolt against the new government of Ali Abdullah Saleh. Ahmed Masraba was an active member of the socialist party in the city, but he was not in the military or working for the government.
Dhamar locates in south of Sana’a, a mountainous city where neglected by the government.
“My father putted pressure on the government and forced the government to deliver public services to the residents of the city: electricity, water, and food – the most basic need of the people,” said Rashid.
“Do you know the reason behind this revolt?” I asked.
“My father and the other members of the party accused former president Abdulallah Saleh’s party assassination plot against his processors Ibrahim Hamdi (d.1977) and Ahmed bin Hussein Al-Ghashmir (d.1978),” said Rashi. “You can say that anyone who supported Al-Hamdi would disappear.”
Not short after Mathlab in December 1981, the second conflict escalated in 4th Janaury, 1982 between the new government and the residents. At this time, according to Rashid, Abdulallah Saleh’s uncle and 500 soldiers was taken hostage in the village. They were released after one week, however; the uncle was killed.
There were many residents were arrested in the second conflict as the case of Rashid’s father.
There are two assumptions among the villagers and families on the arrest of the activists: 1) The death of Saleh’s uncle and 2) Saleh’s party wanted to control the area because at least 90% of the residents were socialist party. Saleh afraid they would pose threat to the new government.
Based on an article published in Al-Akhbar, after October 1978, the Nasserist organization tried to overthrow former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh who had only been in power for a few months. As a result, security agencies carried out a widespread campaign of arrests targeting Nasserists, leftist, and Baathist activists… the Yemeni regime continued its practice of forced disappearances until the end of 1983…
“Do you know Fuad Abduljalil’s father Abduljalil Al Audini of 1983 disappearance? Is he friend with your father?” I asked.
“I know Fuad Abdulijalil but our fathers don’t know each other. Maybe they met each other in the prison,” Rashid joked.
Rashid received information about his father in 2002 from a police officer that his father was in Al Tahrir prison in 1998. He was transferred to another disclosed place and they do not know where he is now. His mother died from heart attack after she heard the news. The latest news he received about his father from a good friend. This friend is working for the government and obtained a list of enforced disappearance that is still alive. He was ready to go to court to open all the cases of the arrested only if someone guaranteed his safety. At the end he did not receive the guaranteed.
“My mother thought that my father would be released shortly after his arrest. She did not know that it turn out to be a long time,” said Rashid.
“How old were you when your father was arrested?” I asked.
“When I was four years old but I am the second youngest in the family.”
“Who told you the story of your father and what is your image of your father?” I asked.
“I learned the story of my father from my mother, brothers, and other people. Fariq was the most active family member in searching for our father. He died in 2007 from heart attack. And I carry down the mission now.”
I asked, “Did Fariq say anything to you that you remember the most?”
“He said to me that whatever happened to us we will find our father,” said Rashid. “He was a hero and he did many things. All the people from the area loved my father. Whenever we visit the city, all the people felt bad when talk about my father.”
“What story about your father would you tell your children?”
“They should be proud of their grandfather. He was the hero to the people,” said Rashid.