The Sanaa Authorities Fall Back on OLD Ways: Hard Times for the Free Press! [Archives:1999/21/Front Page]

May 24 1999

Here are 7 of the tactics in vogue today as developed and applied by the Yemeni authorities in order to reign in independent and/or opposition media. 
1: On Trial: 
Today, 7 newspapers are on trial in Yemen.. These are Al-Ayyam, Al-Ray-Aam, Al-Haq, Al-Shoura, Al-Thawri, Ray, and Yemen Times. The charges vary, but it is always due to something the papers had printed. All cases were filed by the authorities. 
2:Beating Up Journalists: 
On Monday, May 10th, Saif Al-Hadhiri, Editor in chief of Al-Shumoo’ paper, was beaten by masked men. Over the last 5 months, 8 journalists have been beat up. 
3: Journalists in Jail: 
Since the beginning of this year, 12 journalists have gone to prison for varying durations. 
4: Tactics to Discredit: 
Government controlled newspapers such as 26th September – managed directly by the Office of the President, and Al-Mithaq – mouthpiece of the ruling PGC party, constantly run stories to discredit any person or newspaper which criticizes the state. On 13th May, for example, 26th September – controlled by the Office of President Saleh – ran an article attacking the Aden-based At-Tariq newspaper. On 17th May, Al-Mithaq ran several articles in which it insulted the Yemen Times, Al-Ayyam and Al-Shoura newspapers. 
5: Losing Income: 
Many journalists and columnists who are government employees have been denied their salaries. A celebrated case is that of Noman Kaied Saif. 
6: Clone Papers: 
The state routinely finances clone and duplicate copies of independent/opposition papers. The objective is to confuse the public, discredit the original papers, and flood the market. 
7: Using the Tax Excuse: 
On May 17th, two persons claiming to work for the Tax Department showed up at the Yemen Times head office in Sanaa. They carried a letter summoning the editor for questioning due to delays in tax payment. When they were confronted with a copy of a cheque made out to the Tax Authorities as payment for the last due month – through April 30th 1999, they were very surprised. Confused, they cursed and left. 
In addition to the above tactics, traditional means of harassment, such as phone tapping, tailing, mail searching, threats, insults, etc., also continue. 
In response to such deterioration of freedom of the press in Yemen, Ms. Ann K. Cooper, Executive Director of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, wrote to President Saleh. She stated: “This recent spate of attacks on the press in Yemen has created a formidable climate of intimidation for all journalists.” In a press release on May 17th, 1999, the CPJ also outlined various attacks on journalists, and concluded, “Since February (1999), (Yemeni) authorities have taken a series of other punitive measures against journalists…”