Thursday, July 18, 2019

Yemeni Photographer, Taha ‘Detained and Deported’ from Egypt to London

Yemeni photographer, Rahman Taha claims he was deported from Cairo international airport last night after arriving in Egypt from London. Taha was participating in a symposium over a week ago at the British Museum in London as part of the Shubbak Festival of Contemporary Arab Culture, highlighting the art of Yemeni artists. Taha was showing some of his photography work and his film titled, “Short Scenes Based On A True Story.”

“The Egyptian authorities at the airport didn’t allow me to take my next flight to Seiyun, Yemen and they detained me for 15 hours in a toilet at the airport,” Taha claims.

Taha, who was based in Sana’a went to Egypt along with his sister four months ago through a road trip from Sana’a to Seiyun city and then via a flight to Cairo. He entered Egypt while obtaining a medical certificate that showed that the purpose of his stay in Egypt was to accompany his sister who needed medical care. Egypt doesn’t allow visa entry for people aged between 16 to 50 unless there is a medical reason for their visit.

Taha was participating in a symposium last week at the British Museum in London as part of the Shubbak Festival of Contemporary Arab Culture, highlighting the art of Yemeni artists.

“When I arrived in Egypt four months ago, there was no problem at all,” says Taha on a phone call from London, “but upon my return from London, it seems I have been placed on a black-list over the course of the past four months.”

After they detained him, the Egyptian authorities told Taha that he could choose to either be deported back to Yemen, only to Aden, or be deported back to where he came from, London, as Taha tells me.

“I refused to be deported to Aden because I am certain that I would be captured by the UAE-backed forces there for two main reasons,” explains Taha, “one: because I am a northerner, two: because my pro-UAE friend in Aden has told me that my name is on a back-list.”

Taha has been in Lebanon previously and that’s probably why his name was “black-listed” by UAE’s forces in Aden. “In Aden’s airport, there’s an office called “Al-Dahiya Office” (the name comes from Beirut’s district that’s the main headquarters of Hezbollah) and this office’s role is to interrogate and detain those passengers who hold passports with Lebanese stamps,” says Taha.

After being deported, Taha claims he didn’t face a problem at London’s Heathrow Airport and was able to leave the airport, but he speaks with tremendous distress, “I am now in London, alone, without any money and nowhere to stay in, and I don’t know what to do.”

I can’t independently verify Taha’s story but it’s not unique for Yemeni people to face similar horrifying situations. I contacted the Shubbak Festival’s team asking for their comment on Taha’s situation. They swiftly responded with the following email-reply:

“We’re very sorry to hear of Rahman Taha’s situation. Mr Taha came to London at the invitation of the Shubbak Festival and the British Museum. We are actively in contact with Mr Taha to offer support and assistance, and have been throughout.”