Walking police prevent riots during journalist sit-in [Archives:2007/1073/Front Page]

August 2 2007

By: Saddam Al-Ashmouri
For Yemen Times

SANA'A, July 31 ) A number of activist organized a sit-in at Freedom Square, protesting against journalists and intimidating the editor-in chief of state-run newspaper 14 October. The protesters condemned the “terrorists” and “subverters.”

During the sit-in there was no reporter present from 14 October to release a statement. 14 October accused mosque imams in Aden of attacking the newspaper along with its editor, after the imams' failed attempts at collecting signatures to prevent publication of the newspaper.

The activists' sit-in coincided with the 14th sit-in held by journalists in the same square, demanding the release of SMS media as well as electronic news sites. Both sit-ins experienced riots where a group of people spoke out against journalists and attacked those demanding the release of media means.

This led to the intervening of walking police and cabinet guards, who separated angry protesters in order to prevent conflict similar to last week's riots.

The sit-in activities commenced with a speech by human rights activist, Ali Al-Dailami. Al-Dailami stated that liberty is not a gift or a grant bestowed by someone. It is a right that must be taken lawfully and according to the constitution. He also pointed out that the constitution stipulated that everyone has the right to establish a political party as well as to found a newspaper. Al-Dailami questioned why there must be a license from the government for everything. These are normal rights of every citizen in every country.

He added, “We have to choose either freedom or chains. The constitution is very vivid, and does not need men of law to interpret it. What we need is to say we are here to demand our freedom and independence.”

Khalid Al-Ansi, lawyer and executive manager of the National Organization for the Defense of Rights and Freedoms (HOOD), affirmed the right of protesters to have newspaper licenses and supported unblocking Without Chains mobile service. He also stressed the importance of abolishing the Ministry of Information, describing it as a “bastille,” and deeming it a symbol of repression.

Tawakul Kurman, chairperson of Women Journalists Without Chains delivered a speech in which she renewed the protesters' demands requesting the president to ensure the right of possessing media means as an execution of his electoral program.

Kurman stated that her organiztion will maintain solidarity with Al-Shara' newspaper as well as its editorial staff, Nayif Hassan and Nabeel Subea'. The protesters condemned the terrorist attack launched against the newspaper's building by armed personnel. Protesters also demanded that state authorities investigate the perpetrators, holding the state accountable for the future of Hassan and Subea'.

Additionally, protesters upheld solidarity with Al-Wasat newspaper due to violations wo which the paper was subjected through prosecutions against its editor, Jamal Amer along with three writers. They reaffirmed their objection to such violations.

Protestors will reconvene their sit-in next Tuesday. It will be the 15th sit-in staged in a four-month period.