In Memory of Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf [Archives:2007/1056/Last Page]

June 4 2007

Raidan Al-Saqqaf
[email protected]

Seven years have passed since Yemen Times founder Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf was killed. At a time when Yemen's democratic development was at a crossroads, the nation was shocked to lose one of its prominent freedom fighters and human rights defenders.

The loss of Al-Saqqaf affected not only his family at home and at the Yemen Times, but also the media industry, which lost one of its prime mentors, as well as one of the loudest defenders of human rights and one of the most vocal advocates for transparency and good governance at all levels of government.

His mission for the Yemen Times was to “make Yemen a good world citizen,” considering the role the newspaper was destined to play as essential not only for the nation's cultural, social, economic and political development, but also playing an indispensable watchdog role for the establishment of transparency and accountability in the nation's governance. “This is how to make Yemen a better world citizen,” he used to say.

Dr. Al-Saqqaf strove hard to make the Yemen Times an independent, impartial and unbiased medium, enduring a series of beatings, torture, intimidation and threats, as well as several attempts to bankrupt the newspaper and discourage advertisers from advertising in it. However, the newspaper's work has continued to be recognized, both in Yemen and overseas, and enjoys a large audience in Yemen, with circulation exceeding its competition by six-fold.

My late father mentored myself and many fellow YemenTimes journalists to become a journalist, always telling me that journalists are the historians of their countries. Thus, what we do at the Yemen Times is record our beloved country's history, which we must do factually and accurately, no matter how hard oppression becomes, because we have the responsibility to record the facts genuinely and impartially, putting the interests of the nation ahead, not the regime's interests or personal gains we might be offered. It's been seven years since his death, but the same struggle continues daily.

The Yemen Times received international recognition three times last year, winning the Middle East Publishing Conference's Lifetime Achievement Award, the Gibran Tueni Freedom Award and the world's most prestigious media freedom award, the Free Media Pioneer Award by the International Press Institute, the world's first media organization founded in New York shortly after the United Nations.

The Yemen Times has become a fundamental institution and an important pillar for Yemen's democratic development, what we do and the news stories and reports we author and publish do have an impact; and the feedback we receive as a consequences a motivation which drives us toward further excellence. Still working according to the same guidelines established by our founder, I sincerely believe we are making Yemen a better world citizen, just like late Dr. Al-Saqqaf said.