Hanevy today has been on hunger strike for a week and his health is deteriorating. Yet, the Mauritanian government remains determined to keep him locked up. General Aziz told members of parliament yesterday:
“Hanevy’s case does not concern me and I will not intervene in it. Hanevy was not arrested during my rule. I have not arrested a single journalist. His case is a matter for the courts.”
Regardless of how disingenuous these statements are, General Aziz did in the past say in a meeting with journalists on November, 1 2009:
“..it is better for Hanevy to remain in jail for his own safety, so that he wouldn’t be kidnapped or killed by the people he writes about all day long..”
As you can see, there is a pattern. The judges are taking their cues from Aziz. They interpreted his November statement and implemented their boss’ wishes: “Keep Hanevy locked up even if his sentence is up” which was what happened on December 24.
Hanevy’s plight is already gathering attention. Tunisian dissident Moncef Marzouki and the head of the Arab Committee for Human Rights Syrian Haitham Manaa, two of the most prominent Human Rights activists in the Arab world are already demanding his releases. They were reached by phone by the head of Mauritania’s journalists union.
Speaking of Mauritanian journalists, they are on strike anyway today; no press was printed today because of the sharp rise in printing costs.
Interestingly, RFI picked a report issued by the Mauritanian Bar Association decrying the conditions the infamous House of Bliss a.k.a Dar Naim prison where Hanevy is held, the conclusion are devastating according to the report:
-Overcrowded: Dar Naim prison was built to house 300 inmates, now there are a 1000 inmates in because of the excessive use of preventive detention. There are people who have been on preventive detention since 2002,2003, 2004 who still await trail for offenses whose punishment are shorter than the time already spent in.
-Violence, infectious diseases, torture: the prison does not have healthcare services, the overcrowding of cells is ideal for the spread of diseases. Add to that the constant violence among the inmates and the torture practiced by the guards.