Official coexistence with notoriety [Archives:2008/1167/Opinion]

June 26 2008

By: Mahmoud Yasin
I don't think that Mr. President avenged against the Al-Shoura Weekly editor Abdulkarim Al-Khaiwani. Otherwise, it will mean that Mr. President has stopped practicing vengeance, which is an indispensable component in his politics.

This is the cause of certain forces that are not in line with President Saleh's rejection of their availability, however, the president, in one way or another, doesn't deny the idea of personal vengeance. It is a commonplace idea, and it has not happened that Mr. President viewed such an idea as inappropriate.

The matter was left without the necessary clarifications until Chair of International Federation for Journalists (IFJ) said at a festival organized by the London-based Amnesty International to award a 'Special Award for Journalists Under Threat' to Abdulkarim Al-Khaiwani, one of the inmates in President Ali Abdullah Saleh's jails.

All people in and outside Yemen understand that the imprisonment of Al-Khaiwani is the result of a long-term criminal fabrication and that the journalist has fallen a victim of a multi-priority party that monopolizes exclusively interpretation of relevant laws placed in effect. This interpretation is part of hurriedly taken processes, which we need not mention their details, because even the court never referred to the most recent evidence before it released the court.

This is very unsatisfactory. It reminds us of the warnings made by Al-Khaiwani to his colleagues a few months ago having seen that they continue criticizing the government and its policies that lead the country to such dire situations. Al-Khaiwani warned his colleagues that their criticism will not be feasible, adding that even the kind advice won't help persuade the authorities exclude anyone from their retaliatory policy.

I am one of those who suggested that Abdulkarim Al-Khaiwani should give a call to President Saleh prior to his most recent imprisonment so that the president can reveal his personal respect and appreciation and nothing in this regard necessitates apology. Then, it would be enough for President to show some respect like any Middle East father.

The matter no longer has to do with the country's hurt reputation abroad, if not called notoriety, as the Yemeni authorities turned to behave in away triggering more animosity toward active journalists and opinion writers. As a result, Al-Khaiwani has acclimatized himself to the official coexistence with threats and notoriety.

Some people doesn't pin any hope in the power of international organizations and warnings given by donors with regard to Yemen's obligations to respect journalists and press freedom. However, these repeated events uncovered that the political regime easily submit to such international pressures.

Advice to journalists:

Being colleagues in the same career and our tasks and duties are alike, if not correlated, it is time that we come together and work on protecting and defending our rights and press freedoms. Journalists' cooperation has proved to be effective and commonplace in several experiences.

The outside world proved to understand risky issues that may harm communities in a better way that the Middle East regimes do so. The ambiguity was clarified through the way the official authority reacted to the story of Amnesty International granting its 'Special Award to Journalists Under Threat' to Al-Khaiwani. The 26 September did not hesitate to report that the award was granted to a criminal (Al-Khaiwani) who gained international reputation because of his treason.