Mohamed Al-Nadim...Denial of Freedom Outside the Cell
  • 19/04/2024

    In the ancient city of Sana'a, where narrow alleys are intertwined and the sun is obscured by the shadows of history, “Mohamed Nadim” lived a quietly with his family. “Mohamed” graduated from Sana’a University, majoring in media. He worked for the Yemen Channel, and spent his days writing news, analyzing events, and reading developments, but on March 5, 2018, this quiet life turned into a dark nightmare.

    At dawn when the sun of freedom did not rise, the Houthis knocked on the door of Mohamed Nadeem’s house, stormed his house forcefully, kidnapped him without justification, and took him to a secret prison, where an unparalleled journey of torment began.

    "Mohamed" spent three days in the darkness of the cell, where he was tortured by the group. They falsely accused him of working with Saudi Arabia and leaking information about their prisons. They tried to break his will to no avail. His screams rose within the prison walls, but no one heard them, except for the echo of injustice filling the place.

    Mohamed's suffering increased when he saw the death of a detainee in the cell due to torture. He looked at the body of the man who had lost his breath, and felt helpless because he couldn’t save him. Death in the cell was not just a terrifying scene, but rather a warning message to everyone who opposes the Houthis.

    Amidst the darkness and oppression, a ray of hope appeared to Mohamed. A friend of his in the cell told him, whispering in a low voice, that a person called “Abu Yahya” would smuggle him out of prison in exchange for a sum of money. He stressed that he would not tell anyone about this until he got out.

    Mohamed asked him if he could tell Abu Yahya about him, and he replied, “No, not now. He might get upset with me and might cancel the agreement between us, but you can present the matter to him yourself and offer him what you are able to offer.”

    Mohamed says, “The next day, I saw Abu Yahya while I was cleaning the corridor, and I said to him, ‘Uncle Abu Yahya, I want to talk to you, and I will not talk for long.’ So, he told me to speak.  I told him I wanted to leave prison and I promise you that I would not remain in Sana’a and would leave immediately. He asked me what he could do. I told him, “You can. Get me out of this place, please.” He was silent for a while and told me that he would respond to me the next day. Then he said, “I will speak to the prison director, but what can you offer the director in exchange for your release?” So, I told him that I own a new, clean 2013 Corolla. I saw the joy in his eyes, then he said: “Okay, tomorrow we will talk and don’t tell anyone.” I told him, “I promise you that.”

    On the same day, Abu Yahya summoned Mohamed Nadeem to the corridor, where he gave him a phone to quickly call his family and tell them to send a picture of his car that he told him about because the manager wanted him to see it, Abu Yahya said.

    Mohamed continued, "I spoke to them quickly. Then I told my wife to go to a friend of mine and give him the number I called from and tell him that the owner of this number would smuggle me out of prison in exchange for my car. I was sure that my friend would know what to do."

    The call ended, and then the family's voice disappeared, and Abu Yahya also disappeared. Mohamed used to stay, waiting for sleepless nights, waiting for Abu Yahya to appear to tell him about his departure from prison. Many questions were on Mohamed's mind. On the third day, at 8:00 pm, the cell door was opened, and Mohamed’s eyes were always on the door, waiting for whoever it was next. Finally, Abu Yahya entered, waving his hand towards Mohamed, “Come, Mohamed, you will be transferred to another prison.”

    Mohamed says, “At these moments, all my senses stopped and I could not get up out of extreme joy until two of those who were with me in the prison rose to help me get up. I bid farewell to everyone who was with me in the room. Then I left with Abu Yahya, who was silent and did not utter a single word. I kept walking behind him in a miserable state, completely resembling a crazy person, with long hair, dirty, shabby clothes, and bare feet.”

    He added, “When we reached the second door that separates us from the prison building and where we enter the square, someone waved his hand pointing to an old Cressida car and told me to go and get in that car. I quickly went to the car, and there was a man wearing a white shirt sitting in the back seat, chewing khat and holding his weapon. I was terrified and astonished. Then he shouted at me, saying: “Come on, come and get up here.” I quickly obeyed his screams and got into the back seat. He said to me, “Try to sleep on your stomach here under my feet.” So I threw my body down as he asked me to, and he placed his feet on top of my head and my back.”

    Mohamed continues: “Another person rode with us. I could not know who he was because I couldn’t see him. Then the other one also put his foot on my back and his other foot between my feet, and they were talking about Abu Yahya and why he was late. After that, I heard Abu Yahya's voice asking about me. He immediately got into the car in the front seat next to the driver, and then I heard him say, “Where did Abu Ali go? I knew he was asking about the driver, so they told him he went to the bathroom.”

    He continued: “Within seconds, the driver came and started the car. We set off towards the main gate. I was completely covered by the clothes of the two men sitting in the back. The car stopped in front of the ominous large gate, and they were talking with Abu Yahya to some of the guards in front of the gate. While they were talking, I heard the sound of that giant steel opening and emitting the whistle of freedom. I felt like life had opened up to me. Then the car started and all my aches and pains went away. Even though I was almost suffocating under their feet, I was happy and this was the most beautiful day in my life.”

    Mohamed finally arrived at a safe place where he called his wife and children. The meeting was very touching, full of tears and joy, but Mohamed’s happiness was not complete, so he had to leave Sana’a for fear of the Houthis, who threatened to kill him if they found him.

    Mohamed moved to another city, but he did not enjoy peace. He was harassed and threatened by the Houthis, even years after he was smuggled out of prison.

    Mohamed didn’t give up but decided to fight for a better life for his family. He strove hard to obtain a travel visa to a Western country where he could live in safety and dignity. Mohamed felt that this was the only opportunity to start a new life away from injustice and fear.

    After months of strenuous efforts, Mohamed faced great disappointment. His application for a travel visa was not approved, and his dreams of living in safety collapsed. Mohamed felt hopeless and frustrated, as if fate was chasing him and depriving him of his right to freedom.