What needs to happen to . . .Free the Arab Nation [Archives:2004/786/Local News]

November 1 2004

Mohammed bin Sallam
TAIZ – The Human Rights Information & Training Center (HRITC) organized last Tuesday a special symposium entitled “Freedom of expression in the Arab World” in collaboration with the Yemeni Lawyers Syndicate (YLS) and the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS).
The symposium reviewed issues of freedom of expression in the Arab Region, and its deterioration and backwardness realized in many different Arab countries. The current situation of the freedom of expression leads to the continuing attempts to cancel any expression before the Arab press and the civil society institutions.
The symposium also reviewed the detention of Abdulkareem Al-Khawani, Editor-in-chief of al-Shura newspaper, who is jailed in the Sana'a central prison owing to a preliminary verdict sentencing him to one year in prison and suspending the newspaper for six months.
The prosecution of the journalistic writer Abduljabbar Sa'ad and sacking him from a government job at the Customs Authority without any proof over his journalistic writing was also discussed in the symposium.
The participants (both males and females) stressed that the miserable situation of the freedom of expression among Arabs further gets exacerbated owing to the passive role of media in the Arab Capitals. Suppression and detention cases and imprisonment related to the issues of expression multiply without any proofs. They aim at stopping any function concerning the dignity of the Arab man and freeing him his worst situation.
The participants affirmed democratic moves and the enhancement of human rights as key issues.
They claimed that the crisis of the Arab nation demands us to reopen the doors of the freedom expression and cancel some legislations that restrict it.
The political participation, followed by the freedom of expression and the independence of media and its role in the enlightenment of the society, topped the agenda of the workshop.
The participants urged the Arab governments, primarily the Republic of Yemen, the Kingdom of Bahrain, Tunisia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to release the detainees of expression as soon as possible.
They also demanded the Arab Regional organizations mainly Arab Lawyers Union (ALU) and Arab Journalists Union (AJU) to adopt a law to guarantee the release of the detainees of expression and stop jailing them.
The symposium came out with some recommendations to manipulate the current workable legislations exercised by the Arab regimes and to end the previous penalties against journalistic writers as well as not to suspend the newspapers.
The symposium pointed out the monopoly of media and television broadcasting practiced by the Arab governments, insisted on encouraging the press establishments and offering them every sort of support as well as to provide social guarantees for media and press workers.