Sana’a Declaration Gone with the Wind? [Archives:2000/15/Viewpoint]

April 10 2000

Whenever I remember the days of the Emerging Democracies Forum (EDF), I remember with pride how Yemen was able to host such large numbers of delegations coming from all over the world to participate in such an important forum. I also remember the hard working days when we used to publish daily issues in English and Arabic to cover the event. The event was well organized and well managed.
In the last day of the forum, the declaration of the forum came out. It was named Sanaa Declaration. We as Yemen Times were proud to have published the declaration on time the next day after it was released.
The ones who read the daily editions EDF editions of Yemen Times would remember a title in the front page of the last edition saying, “Words have been said, now deeds must follow.”Today, almost six months after the declaration, we ask ourselves “what has been done so far in regard to implementation of the declaration, or at least working on it?”As Yemen Times, we are most interested in the part of Sanaa Declaration that dealt with the media. As mentioned in the declaration, public participation in democratic decision making is enhanced by providing for private ownership of media and ensuring the impartiality of state-owned media through independent boards or other means;”So, has there been any simple steps showing the intention of the government to provide for private ownership of media, such as TV or Radio, or Internet Service? Has there been any impartiality of state-owned media through independent boards or other means?
I hate to say this, but so far, I have not noticed any implementation to what has been mentioned in the declaration, especially in regard to media. If there were any implementations, why can’t we see them in reality?

I do not criticize here for the sake of criticizing, but it is truly not a good image for a government that had hosted such a huge gathering, and came out with the steps that should be implemented, then simply ignore them. Anyone can set up a bunch of rules and regulations, but implementing them is what is important. Otherwise, these declarations, rules, and regulations would turn out to be nothing more than papers kept in the drawer.
If the government is to act and show it is truly committed to implementing the declaration, it should start now. Waiting for an appropriate time is nothing but a waste of time. The appropriate time and environments will not come to us, but we are the ones who must bring them. Hence, I believe that unless a strong, confident, and courageous movement towards the implementation of the declaration takes place, the government will not be seen sincere by the eyes of the Yemeni public. If it is indeed sincere, It has to prove it.
I expect to receive some written responses from the government to this view point, similar to what I always get when writing similar articles, such as: “You are unfortunately talking about something that you are not aware of. We have been working extensively since the end of the forum to implement the declaration points, but you have not been following our work on a regular basis. How do you know that we are not implementing it?”

I will only reply by saying, “I am sorry, I may have not noticed your efforts. So please provide me with all that you have done in implementation of the declaration, especially what you have done in the freedom of expression, and media sectors, and I will publish them in the next issue.”If a complete and convincing report was submitted by the government showing that indeed implementation was taking place was provided, I would be glad to apologize in this very column, and bring about all the facts clearly to our readers.
After all, we are not doing this to intimidate anyone. We are doing it only for the sake of you, our reader. We want to keep you informed of what is going on. We are doing this for the sake of the people, and for the sake of revealing the truth. Is that too much?

Walid Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf                
Chief Editor