Another violation of freedom of the press in Yemen reported:Car crash kills two, but journalist captured [Archives:2003/632/Local News]

April 21 2003

A car accident near Yemen Times (YT) premises in Haddah, Sanaa resulted in the killing of two children last Friday afternoon. The accident killed 13-year old Talal Ali Al-Bukhaiti and his sister Abeer, whose father pledged to put out a fight to bring those responsible to justice.
The accident happened when a teenager was driving a 4WD Land Cruiser vehicle in high speed in a narrow path slamming another parked car and killing the two victims who were near by. People were outraged at the carelessness of the driver who was allowed to drive the car recklessly in such a young age.
Just a minute or so after the accident, YT journalist Ayid Ahmed Abdulrahman called the traffic police emergency number to report on the incident so as to bring help to the scene as fast as possible. Then he went to the scene to report on how it happened, and consequently help expose the phenomenon of underage driving in Yemen to the authorities so as to prevent such miseries in the future.
However, just as the police forces responded -15 minutes or so after the incident- by arriving at the seen, the first thing they did was take the reckless car driver along with the journalist for interrogation.
“I was shocked to be pulled to the 'Opel' police car with no reason. Not only that! But I was also beaten by the policemen in the car. Apparently, because the teenager car driver seemed to be a son of an influential figure, they had him ride in the front seat, and tried to calm him down and treat him well. While on the other hand, I, an innocent journalist who wanted to carry out his mission, was harassed, beaten up, and had my camera taken away for some time.” Ayid said.
“This has been a case of many similar cases where police forces treat journalists irresponsibly, beating them, taking away or destroying their cameras, and treating them as if they were culprits.”
“Even though I was released hours after the incident, I will continue to do my job and will stand up for my rights. This incident will certainly have a negative effect on me and on our country's image because it demonstrated to the world that freedom of the press is still not respected in our country.”
Ayid was released from the police station only after intensive calls and personal involvement by the Editor-in-Chief of YT and yet police forces continued to insist that what they did was right, claiming that they have higher orders to arrest any journalist who does not have 'written permission letter issued by the newspaper and approved by the concerned authorities'.
YT's Editor, Walid Al-Saqqaf said, “We reported the incident to the concerned authorities and is still waiting for an explanation or compensation for the damage caused, but is also demanding an end to such incidents not for YT journalists only, but for all journalists in Yemen.