Information ministry continues plan to close Al-Sabah newspaper [Archives:2008/1138/Local News]

March 17 2008

SANAA, March 16 ) Yemen's Ministry of Information still plans on closing Al-Sabah weekly newspaper, owned by Saeed Al-Jeraik, who has been also its editor-in-chief for 45 years. The ministry accuses the newspaper of covering sit-ins and protests in the south and some northern governorates in a way that doesn't serve national unity. The ministry says the newspaper tends towards opposition inside and outside the country.

The newspaper's managing editor, Ahmed Al-Haj, accused the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS) of being biased against some journalists' issues, considering it a weakness. Al-Haj called for creating a mechanism to express journalists' demands.

In meeting held on March 12 to show solidarity with the newspaper, journalists described the YJS as a “dead” organization, criticizing it for its stance on violations committed against journalists.

Organized by the Women Sister Forum, a local non-governmental organization (NGO), the meeting brought together chief editors of several newspapers, lawyers, representatives from the YJS, and civil society organizations.

The participants agreed to start a call pushing for civil society organizations to appeal to international organizations to put pressure on the government. The call includes a suggestion to start a campaign through newspapers and websites to call for canceling the penal court, where journalists are tried.

The participants also agreed to form a committee that includes representatives from the YJS and lawyer's bar, in addition to 4 local NGOs. The committee will be assigned to find a mechanism to defend journalists' issues.

Saeed Thabet, an official at the YJS, said the Ministry of Information stopped Al-Sabah newspaper from publishing, as the newspaper covered issues in the southern governorates, which bothered the state.

The newspaper's editorial staff said the information ministry's allegations are invalid, adding the newspaper will continue to support people's issues, freedoms, and dignity, whether in the south or north. The newspaper considered the information ministry's action a 'violation of freedom of expression.' “The Ministry of Information seeks to silence dissenting opinions through an organized campaign that targeted a number of newspapers and websites