Stop the media abuse! [Archives:2004/786/Front Page]

November 1 2004

An assault that took place Thursday against a number of prominent Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS) members at the Central Prison in Sana'a has raised eyebrows and concerns of diplomats and others in the international community.
Mr. Hani Sabra, of the well-respected New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, condemned this assault and called upon the Yemeni Authorities to ease the growing pressure against the press community. “I am truly concerned about the deteriorating level of press freedoms in Yemen and fear that this is bringing a negative reputation to the country that pledged to start a democratic process after unity in 1990,” he told Yemen Times.
This comes after the YJS issued a statement condemning the assault by the authorities of the Central Prison of Sana'a when five of its members were subject to harassment and were prevented from visiting their colleague Abdulkareem Al-Khaiwani, who is still in jail and suffering from poor prison conditions.
The syndicate expressed its concern about the incident and called upon the authorities to act decisively in this respect.
“The YJS condemns such action and exposes it to the general public. It also demands from the Minister of Interior and the General Attorney to swiftly investigate this incident, which raises the concern about the motives behind such action especially as prison conditions of Abdulkareem AL-Khaiwani are in doubt, and he may be suffering from harsh prison conditions,” the YJS said.
This comes as the conditions of Abdulkareem Al-Khaiwani are said to have deteriorated, especially in terms of his psychological conditions, due to the fact that he is spending the holy month of Ramadan away from his family and friends and is probably going to spend the Eid in prison as well.
The attack is another development demonstrating a step back in freedom of the press, and another indication of the supported belief that there is now a pattern of violations against the press that is not explainable or justified.
“The international community, including embassies and international organizations in Yemen are urged to step up their pressure on the government to stop this aggressive campaign against the media. This development is certainly not helping Yemen's democratic transformation; it is in fact damaging the country's reputation, which has been steadily improving until recent years as the authorities starting limiting freedoms of the press in an unprecedented way.” said Hafez Al-Bukari the General Secretary the YJS.
“The YJS would like to reaffirm its commitment to exert its best efforts to protect its members, calling upon all those concerned with the protection of the liberties and freedoms and pro-human rights activist to express solidarity with the syndicates opposing such brutal and unexplainable action that violates the constitution, the law and even human values.”
It is expected that this action will trigger more negative reporting on Yemen's already deteriorating record in freedom of the press. However, the Yemeni government is still working to ensure that Yemen's democratization efforts are appreciated, and it is also hoped that it would take action to stop the escalation of the attack against the press any further.