More solidarity with Al-Khaiwani [Archives:2004/802/Front Page]

December 27 2004

Journalist Abdulkareem Al-Khaiwani, Editor-in-Chief of Al-Shoura is now receiving more support from within the country and from abroad.

Demands to free him from prison have reached greater heights in the last few months, especially as the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS) has been preparing a major offensive to press for his release.

The YJS promises more action

In fact, the YJS council has requested for the second time an appointment with the Minister of Justice to discuss issues concerning the ongoing imprisonment of Al-Khaiwani and the judicial process in his trial procedures. According to, the first appointment had to be cancelled as the minister had to attend a session of the Higher Judicial Council chaired by President Saleh.

The council of the YJS is to hold a meeting next Saturday to discuss the general situation of the press in the country and also to go through the reports submitted by ad hoc committees on tasks conducted since last March, especially concerning efforts to release Al-Khaiwani.

The YJS said that it may hold a prolonged sit-in that may lead to a strike during the coming days to pressurize the government to resume the trial of Al-Khaiwani, said Hamdi Al-Bukari, member of the YJS council and head of the Training and Profession Committee.

He said that YJS would conduct solidarity activities that would continue until a date for the appeal session is decided upon.

Al-Bukari expected that tents would be pitched in front of the Court of Appeals compound where journalists would be dwelling in relays.

In response to a question about the reaction of the YJS if the government refuses to look into their request, Al-Bukari said, “We hope they will meet our demands, which is within the context of the law.”

He added, “Otherwise, we will accelerate our protest into strikes in all media establishments in the country.”

Yet, he stated that it is neither in the state's interest nor in the country's to continue the ongoing 'unjustifiable attack on journalism, and gag mouths, turning Yemen into a vast prison'.

On the other hand the Writers Union of the Russian City St. Petersburg has sent a letter to the President of the Republic asking him to enhance press freedom standards and release detained pressmen and scholars “who have been thrown unfairly into prison.”

The letter said the acts do not conform to the articles of Yemen's constitution and ethics. The letter indicated that detainees were subject to health problems and their safety could be jeopardized.

The Union specifically demanded the freeing of editor-in-chief of Al-Shura, Abdulkarim Al-Khaiwani, and all similar opinion prisoners.

Support for Al-Khaiwani from Michigan

Meanwhile, the Yemeni community in Michigan, US, arranged last Sunday a solidarity festival with Al-Khaiwani who is detained in Sana'a Central Prison.

The festival was held at the headquarters of the Yemeni-American Cultural Center amid the presence of a number of Yemeni community leaders and journalists.

The festival would send letters to US NGOs and international human rights watchdogs to exert pressure on the Yemeni government to free Al-Khaiwani, said Ali Al-Faqih, member of the festival preparatory committee.

Activists expect the festival to start an intensive campaign to release Al-Khaiwani and invalidate the Court of First Instance sentence against him, especially as judicial inquiries have unveiled misconduct of the same judge who issued the sentence. This may result in disciplinary action against him, and may have implications on the sentences he issued. “To continue the detention of Al-Khaiwani, we are only harming Yemen's reputation around the world,” said Mohammed Ghaleb, one of the community leaders.

“Press freedom in Yemen is still subject to many restrictions and limitations that need to be lifted for the sake of Yemen and its people in and out of the country,” he concluded.

Al-Khaiwani, editor of the opposition weekly Al-Shoura, began serving a one-year prison sentence on September 5. He was convicted of incitement, insulting the president, publishing false news, and causing tribal and sectarian discrimination. Al-Khaiwani was allegedly charged under both Yemen's Press Law and Penal Code.

Despite his appeal, Al-Khaiwani's appeal did not receive enough attention by the Appeals Court and his case has been stretching for months.

The court also suspended Al-Shoura for six months in the same verdict issued by the Court of First Instance in Sana'a.