A Yemeni political prisoner died on Sunday in the Maldives after staging a hunger strike in protest of his detainment which has been at the request of the Saudi government over alleged links to terrorism, although no charges were formally pressed against him.
Yasir Yahya Saleh was arrested in March 2017, according to a statement released by his family, he was requested by the authorities to leave the country within a month without reason and asked not to go to the media. This coincided with the scheduled official visit by Saudi’s King Salman Bin Abdulaziz to the Maldives.
However, Saleh, who entered the country on a tourist visa in 2014, had married a local Maldivian woman that year and was working in the Ahmadiyya International School as well as Maldives Islamic University as a teacher.
His wife was also seven months pregnant at the time of his arrest and he was not allowed any visits from her during his detainment in contravention of prison regulations to provide a minimum 12 hours private time with family every month for every detainee who is held for more than 14 days in the detention facility.
According to Immigration, he was being monitored by the police on allegations that he had ties with Al-Qaeda. The Ministry of Home Affairs had stated that his repatriation would be arranged as soon as he agreed to the offer, which was refused. Home Minister Imran Abdulla had formerly asserted that authorities did not violate any of Saleh’s human rights, adding that he was held in custody under the most lenient conditions, reports the Edition.
However, family lawyer Ahmed Nimal told MEMO today that Maldivian immigration law does not allow a prolonged detention. It is also against the constitution to be detained for more than 24 hours without a court order. Nimal is currently discussing the possible legal avenues in seeking justice for Saleh with his relatives, taking into account the fact that Saleh’s wife was pregnant at the time of his arrest and his home country, Yemen, was in a state of war
A Yemeni held in detention in #Maldives dies while in state custody. Choice given appears to be either to go back to war torn home or to stay under state custody in a country he has a wife & a child. No trial till date since detention in 2017. By any UN principle,this is torture. https://t.co/AYmhIDdsMw
— Shafeea Riza (@ShafeeaRiza) August 2, 2020
Saleh launched a hunger strike last year before being hospitalised as a result, he was again taken to hospital last month, his health is said to have slowly deteriorated over the past three years.
In a statement, the family described the actions by the government as “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 at least 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.”