Silver LiningWho is devastating Yemen?! [Archives:2005/874/Opinion]

September 5 2005

By Mohammed Hatem al-Qadhi
[email protected]

The harsh attacks on the media professionals mounted last week with the arrest of our colleague Khaled al-Hamadi under the pretext of reporting the breakdown of a military aircraft. The ministry of defense came up last Thursday with a warning to Arab and international reporters not to “cross the red lines” of reporting military and security issues, considering them top secrets and taboos.

I do not really know where the secret lies in reporting the breakdown of a military aircraft. Actually, it is not the incident that hurt the big guys but the fact that the journalist said the maintenance budget is being pocketed by some people in charge and this is why our aircrafts fall down.

The arrest of al-Hamadi is an acceleration to the attack momentum on journalists who feel insecure at the moment. Al-Thawra official daily newspaper also instigated the officials' outrage against the correspondents of the foreign media in its editorials last week. We have been accused of being” agents who have fallen into the trap of tarnishing the image of the country for personal gains”. We have also been accused of frightening the foreign investments of the situation.

Hey guys, we are just journalists, not opposition politicians, so as to attack us in such a ruthless way. We have no business but to report the truth and what is going on . We are not mercenaries or agents but to the truth. We do care about our country more than you do. You always say these people report only the bad things taking place in the country. Please show us the good things; the stock market exchanges, the big investments and others of such stuff we can report to our readers abroad. We do have just trials of terrorists, tribal feuds, battles with extremists or rebels and many more similar ailments our country is plagued with. We are ourselves fed up of reporting or writing about such incidents.

Hey folks, beware that you have done nothing remarkable to be reported and remember that you even do not know how to get rare good things reported abroad. You lack such a media policy and are heedless to the role the media can play in our life. You do respect and honor illiterate tribal sheikhs more than intellectuals. You should remember that we can not hide your attacks on the human rights activists and media people. This is not our job to beautify your ugly performance and wrongdoings. Do not expect from us to market you outside while you have rotten apples in the show.

I believe it is not journalists who are harming the country and distorting its image outside. It is you folks who is doing that; you heedlessly attack journalists and violate human rights without any attention to the consequences. Do not expect that what you do inside can remain secrets. Remember that we are living in a global village.

Yemeni people and the world were proud of Yemen's experience of press freedom during the last few years. But, now you have tarnished this impression and accelerated your attacks and violence against journalists. Press freedom was our asset and credit but now we have nothing to be proud of in the world. We are no more “a bacon of democracy” in the region.

Therefore, we should question: who is harming or devastating the country's image or reputation outside? Is it journalists or your bad performance people? The world bases its reports on your performance and measure it according to your respects to democracy, press freedom and human rights. Don't you think that such reports are based on your wrongdoings and not on what is written by journalists who just reflect the reality. Isn't Yemen the lonely loser by the end?!