The Policy of the Regime Regarding Journalists: “Repeat our lies, or else.” [Archives:1999/01/Front Page]
Time and again, our rulers have shown that they will not tolerate independent journalism. They try to dictate to journalists how they should write their stories, even as the politicians talk about democracy, pluralism, tolerance, etc. The top politicians of Yemen are still unable to accept that someone will report things differently than they do. If some individuals insist to differ, then the traditional tools of dictators are used against them. The rulers try to destroy or at least discredit the person or group that refuses to toe the line.
Rageh Omaar of the BBC summarized this when he described his and his colleagues’ ordeals with the Yemeni authorities which tried to stop the truth from reaching the world. He wrote:
“… the heart of it is the battle with one’s own psychology – and a journey of discovery of what it ACTUALLY means to tell the truth, even when the bureaucracy of a whole state is telling you and the world that you are not.”
Source: http//www.news.bbc.co.uk (20/9/98).
Last week, I had yet one more example.
On Thursday, December 31st, 1998, September 26 newspaper completed the year with another assault on me. This paper is directly managed by the office of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The article shows how irritated presidential circles are with our account of the Abyan event which led to the murder of 4 persons. It also shows how low they are willing to stoop in using lies in a disinformation campaign.
I give below an exact and full translation of this last assault on me .
“Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf is known for his suspect loyalties and for his association with foreign intelligence agencies. He uses his foreign-financed “Yemen Times”, to harm the country’s reputation and distort its image abroad. He exploits almost every occasion to publish criticism against this country. Through his connections with foreign circles and by statements to the foreign media, he crows to the same tune that hurts Yemen.
The latest of Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf’s fads is to promote kidnapping and praise kidnappers. He considers what they do as legal and commendable. In the same manner, he publishes fabricated information, excreting the venom of his hatred for the nation. Recently, he also printed false information regarding the amounts of foreign aid provided to Yemen. Before that, he had published that the number of persons dead and wounded during the early day of the war waged by the secessionists (in 1994) had reached thousands. He was expecting a high official position with the secessionists had they succeeded.
This is not strange of this opportunistic Saqqaf who changes his colors. He speaks out a lot against corruption, but he himself is a symbol of it.
He is also a carbon copy of his other relative – the old communist, atheist Abu Bakar Al-Saqqaf. The other Saqqaf does not even recognize the country’s unity, and considers what happened on May 22, 1990 as wrong. He still wallows in his hateful secessionist dreams.
The earlier face, Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf, also has the same dream, in addition to his opportunistic dream which aims to achieve subjective ends at the expense of the country and its dignity. Such a road is only taken by weak people with no abilities for achievement, and persons who are unable to rise up to the level of responsibility to serve their country and people. Such people change their skin and use different types of make-up and don various masks, just like this doctor. He is not ashamed of having this abominable attitude, as he sees the country a commodity for sale.
What a cheap deal and an ugly role you play, Dr. Saqqaf, whether for subjective and narcissistic goals or for dubious aims for which the motives are very well known.
It remains to tell you, Saqqaf, that all your cards are now burned. All the masks you applied to your face are now gone. Your tricks fool no one anymore. Pull another one, and far away from the soil of this land.”
Chief Editor, Yemen Times.