The House of Bliss

1 01 2010

Yesterday, after five days of hunger strike, a doctor visited Hanevy in his prison, and he concluded that his blood pressure is too low and asked him to stop his hunger strike. Hanevy thanked him and said: No.

His lawyers led by longtime Human Rights attorney Brahim Ould Ebetty, outraged by the arbitrary detention of their client, hit back with a statement announcing their intention to file lawsuits against judicial officials and their accomplices responsible for Hanevy’s extrajudicial imprisonment.

Internationally, Jillian York, Bostonian activist and author, fired the first shot in the advocacy for Hanevy right at the Obama administration. In her Huffington Post piece entitled “Sex, Obama and a Mauritanian Dissident“, York puts this case in the larger Arab context and points out that this is another sign that Obama administration is not living up to its own (emphasis is mine) promises of embracing reform and human rights in the Arab/Muslim world in last year’s highly publicized Cairo speech:

In President Obama’s much-vaunted 2009 speech in Cairo, he made a commitment to supporting reform in the Arab world. Though there was plenty in the speech to criticize, many advocates for free speech saw this as a welcome change and hoped for genuine follow-through. Yet, 2009 has been a terrible year for free speech throughout the region: Six journalists were killed, and more than75 bloggers and cyber-dissidents linger in prisons. And the Western media remains mostly silent.

While the Obama Cairo speech asked Arab youth to remake the world, York explained how that was the case of Ould Dahah:

Hanevy Ould Dahah is an interesting case: educated in Mauritania’s Qur’anic schools, he chose a path of rebellion and staunch liberalism, opposing the military coup and daring to return to Mauritania after a stint in the U.S., knowing full well how much the Mauritanian government despised him. He was arrested only a week after returning to Mauritania earlier this year.

She also pointed out why Hanevy spent six months in jail:

Yet when it comes to issues of free speech and reform, the Western media is hopelessly silent. Hanevy Ould Dahah has been sitting in jail for six months for publishing an anonymous comment from a woman which read “I want to have sex…I am free” on Taqadoumy, the popular site Hanevy edits. On December 24, Hanevy’s sentence was up, but authorities refused to release him; the judge claimed that Hanevy cannot be released because the appeals court doesn’t have his file.

York informs us as well that the US government has been silent on Hanevy’s case despite it offering Mauritania access to preferential trade terms along with other African states just a day before Hanevy’s sentence ended. However, the African Growth and Opportunity Act was not extended to Guinea, Madagascar and Niger because these nations according to the white house  ” saw undemocratic transfers of power which [are] incompatible with making progress toward establishing the rule of law or political pluralism.

To this blogger, it is beyond dispute that holding a journalist and a social entrepreneur after ending his already highly dubious jail sentence is indeed incompatible with “progress toward establishing the rule of law or political pluralism.”

In the meantime, Hanevy remains locked up in the Dar Naim prison, Arabic speakers will appreciate the irony; the prison’s name means House of Bliss.

Happy New Year Hanevy and I hope to see you free sooner than later.

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