Arab Journalists Union calls on Yemeni authorities to stop trying journalists [Archives:2007/1101/Local News]

November 8 2007

Yemen Times Staff
SANA'A, Nov. 7 ) The Arab Journalists Union called on Yemeni authorities to cease trying journalists, including Abdulkareem Al-Khaiwani, editor-in-chief of the Yemeni newspaper Al-Shoura.

The union also announced in a statement issued in its annual meeting early this month that the union supports efforts of the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate to enact a new law giving the press greater freedoms. The law would also prevent imprisoning journalists based on opinion and publication issues.

The office additionally affirmed that freedom of the press is part and parcel of general freedoms, rights and democracy. Therefore, the union seeks to stabilize Yemeni society, as well as rescind legislation imposing restrictions on the press.

The source also expressed its concern regarding the deteriorating freedoms of journalists in most Arab countries because of their struggle to express their opinions. It also praised the efforts exerted by many Arab countries supporting press freedom and independence.

The Cairo-based permanent office of the Arab Journalists Union held its annual meeting on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1., directed by Ibraheem Nafa', union chairman. Secretary generals of the union also attended the meeting.

It is worth noting that the Center for Rehabilitation and Human Rights recorded eleven violations against journalists and press corporations in Yemen in October alone. These violations consisted of physical torture, censorship of web sites and newspapers, preventing journalists from covering peaceful sit-ins, detaining correspondents, and trying opinion writers.

Violations registered

Security authorities assaulted Saddam Al-Ashmouri, a freelancer reporter for the Yemen Times newspaper, on Oct. 2, while he was covering a peaceful sit-in carried out by military retirees staged in Freedom Square in front of the Cabinet. A press release told the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate that a group of people dressed casually and carrying sharp lancets and cudgels attacked Al-Ashmouri and confiscated his camera.

A second violation was carried out by security personnel who attacked the editor-in-chief of Al-Balagh newspaper, Abdullah Al-Wazeer, on Oct. 15. Using cudgels, they attempted to drag him to one of the military vehicles as he tried to photograph the actions of anti-riot and central security forces. The sit-in was held in Al-Sabe'ean square in Sana'a. Although Al-Wazeer told the security personnel that he is a journalist, they continued assaulting him before protesters intervened.


On Oct. 8, the Ministry of Information confiscated the latest issue of Al-Diyar newspaper without any justification. Al-Diyar editor-in-chief A'bid Al-Mahthri confirmed that the Ministry of Information was behind the confiscation, as the issue contained criticism of the regime. Al-Mahthri also said that the ministry ordered the paper not to print the issue.


Yemen Net censored detailed news downloaded by Al-Ishtiraki web site. The news concerned what was said in a Friday sermon delivered on Oct. 12 by former Minister of Endowment Nasser Al-Shaibani, in Al-Janad Mosque in Taiz. The organization denounced Al-Shaibani's words because he had denounced protestors in South Yemen as 'unbelievers', inciting citizens to oppose them. The source also demanded that the authority apologize to the Yemeni people.

In his sermon, Al-Shaibani launched a severe attack against the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), with the president and a number of officials present.

Yemen Net also blocked Shamsan news website administered by Omar M. Omar on Oct. 12, because it had reported that huge security forces were deployed to Radfan district in Lahj governorate as the 44th commemoration of the October 14th revolution was to be celebrated in the district.

In addition, security forces prevented Al-Jazeera news from airing photographs of the celebration. Al-Jazeera, as well as well-informed sources, confirmed that the news agency received threats that its Sana'a office would be closed in case photos of the event were aired.


Security forces in Abyan province released political activist and journalist Ahmed Al-Qama' on Oct. 21. The latter had been detained in Al-Bahrain Central prison in Ju'ar city in Abyan governorate since the beginning of last September. He was arrested in Aden province as he was participating in a peaceful sit-in organized by military retirees last September.

After being released, Al-Qama' said that during investigations he was threatened by authorities while detained. He claimed he was also intimidated in order to stop his peaceful activity.


On Oct. 21 and 24, Abdulkareem Al-Khaiwani appeared in person before the Penal Court on state security charges. The authority accused Al-Khaiwani of being affiliated with the Houthi group. He was also accused of spreading information about the Houthi group by conducting an interview with Al-Houthi in order to promulgate his ideas, inciting people to rebellion. However, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate considered the interview a work of journalism.

Moreover, one of the security guards of the Consultative Council mistreated Abdulkareem Al-Shaleef on Oct. 24 without any justification.

Al-Shaleef went to the council to cover events for private and partisan newspapers. When he arrived at the outer gate of the council, the soldier refused to allow him to enter. Al-Shaleef waited for an officer or official of the council to come in order to know why he was refused entrance. The soldier could not stand it and beat, abused and pointed his weapon at Al-Shaleef.


The family of Sabri Al-Der, detained in the political security prison since May 2007, appealed to civil society organizations and political parties to release their son. Sabri was suspected of being affiliated with Al-Houthi group. However, his wife said that political security has not charged Sabri of anything and that he has nothing to do with Al-Houthi group. She claimed that he is just a student studying in Badr Center and a teacher working in Bani Hushaish district. She demanded the release of her husband, who is the only provider for their family, or to be tried if guilty.


Security forces detained Al-Jazeera news correspondent Ahmed Al-Shalafi, as well as cameramen Mujeeb Suwaileh and Ali Hussein, before 6 pm on Oct. 27, confiscating their cell phones after breaking into their hotel rooms in Al-Khail hotel.

As-Shalafi told Al-Sahwah net that security personnel confiscated the crew's cameras and cell phones after inspecting transmitting devices, and kept the team from leaving the hotel for more than three hours.