Journalists continue protest to release Al-KhaiwaniAppeals Court to look into Al-Khaiwani’s case [Archives:2005/805/Front Page]

January 6 2005

Mohammed bin Sallam
Minister of justice gave directives this week to Mohammed Al-Hirdi, newly appointed judge of the Penalty Department to decide a date for a session to look into the appeal against the sentence of Al-Khaiwani and Al-Shura newspaper. The appeal was made on the issuance of the verdict on September 5, 2004.

This move comes after a sit-in staged by scores of journalists, politicians and intellectuals last week. They staged a sit-in for three days in front of the Court of Appeals and another before the compound of the Ministry of Justice to force a quick reconsideration of the case and a release of Abdulkarim Al-Khaiwani who has been for four months in the Sana'a Central Prison.

The Minister issued his directives after his meeting with the Board of the Journalists Syndicate and Al-Shura newspaper's staff. Yet, the judge has not undertaken the case until writing this article.

Colleague Hamdi Al-Bukari called on journalists to be always present at the headquarters of the Syndicate to give impetus to the protest and quell attempts at delay.

“We will wait for one day until the defense team requests an appointment of a session. If they reject we will accelerate protest,” said a member of the Syndicate Board.

The journalists are still holding a sit-in before the Appeals Court lifting banners asking for freeing Al-Khaiwani, and Al-Shura, and for judicial independence without the interference of authority or influential personalities.

The sit-in organizers daily went into the Ministry of Justice building. The Minister promised that the case of Al-Khaiwani and Al-Shura would be undertaken by the Court of Appeals, in the wake of the recent appointments of judges announced last Week.

The panel of the Appeals Court is still absent while the defense team of Al-Khaiwani and Al-Shura has registered a request for a session to suspend the judgment, the one they had submitted before last Ramadan but delayed by the court.

On the other hand, the opposition parties called for the release of Al-Khaiwani and stop the suspension of Al-Shura newspaper.

Leaders of the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) stated that the case is political and is an indication of the state's policy of reducing democracy and freedom of expression. They considered the imprisonment of journalists as evidence. Their talks on the second commemoration of martyr Jarallah Omar, Assistant Secretary General of the Yemen Socialist Party (YSP), underscored the importance of judicial independence from the executive authority and the country's need for an overall political overhaul.

Secretary General of YSP said continued detention of Al-Khaiwani, editor-in-chief of Al-Shura, is an indisputable proof of a necessity for real political reform so that democracy can thrive.

People who attended the ceremony at the hall of the Yemen Center for Studies and Researches made waves of applause whenever the name of Al-Khaiwani was uttered in speeches.

The national committee formed to follow up martyr Jarallah Omar's case expressed its solidarity with Abdulkarim Al-Khaiwani.

Mohammed Al-Ruba'i, head of the committee criticized the retreat of the government in terms of applying free speech measures. The freedom of speech is “the remaining part of democracy” which has been assassinated by “restrictive policies on advocates of opinion and democratic opposition.”

Al-Ruba'i added, “The first step of the deterioration was the mock trial of Abdulkarim Al-Khaiwani and the punishment of Al-Shura for the same charge by a repeated sentence that ruled its being shut down.

“The court was not satisfied by the charges offered by the prosecution, but also went further to relegate seven of Al-Shura staff to interrogation which has started recently.”

He pointed out in his speech the politically-fueled campaigns managed by the state to targeting different social classes to the extent of using the military and security forces to quench whoever has an opinion different from the state's.

Al-Ruba'i highly appreciated the role of the Syndicate in defending the freedom of expression, and urged civil community organizations to follow the model of the Syndicate since the case in question is about rights and liberties, which are the main concern of democracy supporters.

Secretary General of the Nasserite Public Unionist Party voiced the JMP's denunciation of the harassment of liberties, the campaign against the opposition, arbitrary trials of newspapers and journalists, and the sentences and fines imposed on Al-Wahdawi, Al-Ehya'a Al-Arabi, Al-Tajamoa, Al-Shura, Al-Assemah, and Annas newspapers.

He called for the immediate release of Al-Khaiwani, editor-in-chief of suspended Al-Shura newspaper.

Journalist Aswan Shaher wondered at putting Al-Khaiwani in the same room with murderer Al-Sa'awani. She said Al-Sa'awani was an extremist killer who does not value human life. “He killed a peaceful human being [Jarallah Omar] in public in a savage way, while Al-Khaiwani is an unarmed journalist who has nothing but his ink and pen. He committed no sin but writing in a country that claims to be democratic and to defend human freedom and human rights.”

She showed her disappointment in the JMP and NGOs because they have taken no “honorable” stance towards Al-Khaiwani who is incarcerated in the Central Prison suffering daily oppression, tyranny, and death.

“Who stands behind the bars is not Al-Khaiwani. Rather it is our freedom, dignity, rights, and resolution that are confined,” she concluded