Assaulting journalists hurts democracy and public freedoms [Archives:2008/1218/Opinion]

December 22 2008

Abdullah Al-Wazir
What happened to some journalists a few days ago puts more than a question mark before the government and not before the security personnel. The journalists were subjected to arbitrary arrests, beating, confiscation of their cameras and temporary detention by security personnel while covering a protest, organized by the opposition parties in Sana'a, against the voter registration process, which is currently undertaken by the ruling amid announced boycott of the upcoming parliamentary elections by the major opposition parties.

We all know that security personnel don't move toward citizens or demonstrators unless they are given orders from higher authorities. And, what happened on the protest day reflects that directions were given to prevent journalists from covering the event, which means that no single media outlet is targeted as such action targets all the media personnel and journalists.

What happened to colleague Abdulfatah Haidara, Correspondent of Al-Ayyam Daily, is a targeting of the newspaper, which is rejected and denounced by all means. This irresponsible behavior is impossible to be accepted or tolerated by any wise man on earth.

The journalist was abducted to outside Sana'a while covering the protest. He was then beaten and his fingers were hurt with stones. This manifests the ugliest forms of cruelty and barbarism in the country of faith and wisdom.

We always claim that the government must abide by the Constitution and Law. If the law sides with journalists and encourages them to cover any events, be they organized by the ruling or opposition parties, this law also ensures protection of journalists while covering such events.

The government, on the other hand, must apply the law when a particular journalist commits legal violations while doing his/her job.

Both government and opposition must be law-abiding

An important question, which is being raised here is that, “What are the guarantees provided by the government to ensure that the law is not violated and people are abiding by it? If the government itself violates the law, it must not blame citizens for doing so.

The government always stresses the necessity of citizens, journalists and political parties abiding by the Constitution and laws put into effect. It always says, “The Constitution and Law are above all even the government authorities that are responsible for passing and applying laws.

The fact that the government authorities violate the Constitution and laws reflects insult of the blood of martyrs, who sacrificed their souls for the sake of protecting homeland against oppression and tyranny of leaders and invaders.

How one can assess the situation these days with the government authorities abusing citizens' rights and forcing soldiers to clash with citizens. As narrated by the colleague Abdulfatah Haidara, a soldier attacked one of the protesters during the protest with his rifle in his mouth until his teeth broke.

We don't know why security and military members are instigated against citizens and journalists as if they are their real enemies. We don't know in favor of whom this proceeds.

All the Yemenis, be they ruling party or opposition fans, educated or illiterate, soldiers or farmers students or party members, are brothers. All of them are sons of this homeland and must have equal access to practicing equal rights. All of them are required to do the same duties and are collectively responsible for security and stability of their homeland, and no one is above the law.