Our Path is Irreversible! [Archives:2001/26/Viewpoint]

June 25 2001

Every day I realize that no matter how many violations are committed against the free press, and no matter how vicious some authorities or power centers are fighting the freedom of expression, the cause of freedom of the press seems to be vindicated.
Yes indeed. The path that has been chosen by the leadership of the country is everyday growing to be irreversible. After we have had so much of freedom, it is almost impossible to revers the trend around and go to square one. It is true that some violations have been committed, and their number is may be increasing. Yet, it is also true that independent and opposition newspapers are still going strong.
Two cases that happened last week made me become even more sure about the future of Yemen regarding freedom of the press. The first was the Shoura newspaper case. Even though it was closed down (perhaps for the second or third time), yet its administration was able to produce another newspaper to take over, all with perfect legitimacy. The fact that the Ministry of Information permitted the new newspaper to be issued despite its awareness that it could potentially replace the old newspaper is in itself a positive omen.
The other issue is that of Hassan Al-Zaidi. Most of our readers know that he is one of our active journalists working on many fronts to bring the facts as they are with integrity and independence. Obviously, readers along with many international and local human rights and press freedom supporting organizations were saddened by his arrest about three weeks ago. What was striking about the case is that many organizations locally and internationally stood by Al-Zaidi in his quest for freedom and supported him in many ways. Letters came from readers, activists and international organizations supporting him all the way. Worldwide prominent organizations such as the Human Rights Watch along with the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists all helped exert pressure on the authorities to let Al-Zaidi out. There was no evidence against him, and his arrest was illegal. Hence, in the fitness of things he was set free.
Today, I am even more convinced than ever that the negative elements that are trying to curb the freedom of the people to express themselves and thoughts are beginning to sense loss.This is the era of democracy and human rights. This is the time when the whole world is progressing in this direction and enhancing its understanding of human values. Why should Yemen be held back?
In brief, I am quite sure that it is in the best of interests of the leadership and the people to cooperate in improving our country’s track record in upholding those values and coming out with plans to strengthen and improve our experiences in holding aloft freedom of the press, democracy and human rights. I am glad to see that we are going in the right path, which is definitely an irreversible one.