Yemeni press: numerous troubles, continuous strifeYemeni press: numerous troubles, continuous strife [Archives:2006/936/Front Page]

April 10 2006

Yasser Al-Mayasi
SANA'A, April 9 ) Journalist Abdulfatah Al-Hakimi remains in intensive care in an Aden hospital, his health deteriorating after his car was sprayed with an unknown gas. He became asphyxiated when he got into the vehicle and inhaled the gas, which affected his respiratory system. Thereafter, he suffered severe exhaustion and a drop in blood sugar. He was rushed to intensive care at an Aden hospital.

Press sources confirmed that eyewitnesses saw several unknown individuals spray a gas through the journalist's car window and run away when some children came near.

Al-Hakimi is the former deputy chairperson of Aden's October 14 establishment for journalism, press and publication. He was discharged by republican decree due to his writings about Sa'ada's events more than a year ago. Al-Hakimi is famous for his daring criticism of the government and its departments.

In a separate incident, journalist Abdulsalam Jabir, secretary of Socialist Party mouthpiece Al-Thori newspaper, also was involved in a serious car accident last Saturday, April 8, on the road between Dhamar and Ma'abar as he headed to visit his family.

According to Al-Ishtiraki Net, the accident occurred when the Peugeot commuter car in which Jabir was traveling collided with a Cressida. Both drivers died and passengers were badly injured. Jabir received a badly fractured pelvis and bruises to his head, in addition to fractures on various parts of his body. He was taken to Sana'a Military Hospital.

Journalist Arafat Mudabish, a Sawa radio correspondent in Sana'a, resigned from the journalists syndicate in protest of its failure to defend him after some newspapers attacked him.

Journalist Marwan Damaj, journalists syndicate rights and freedoms secretary, criticized the phenomenon of several unnamed newspapers charging journalists and the press with treason and instigation, adding that the phenomenon has become a heavy burden upon the press and threatens to spoil journalism. He added that those in charge of such newspapers think they are doing a patriotic job. Damaj accused them of committing serious crimes against the country, adding that they attack journalists while fortifying themselves under official umbrellas.

These incidents occur at a time of crisis for the journalists syndicate following last month's resignation of its head, Mahboob Ali. Journalist and parliamentary leaderships believe that the syndicate's crisis is not an excuse to pass the new Press Law, which does not serve the press or its objectives, nor does it advocate journalists' freedoms.

In addition, the Journalist and parliamentary leaderships consider the official campaign against the press an effort to divide them, emphasizing the necessity of syndicate unity. They demanded that syndicate leadership coordinate with the journalists to defeat the new law and develop the syndicate's internal statute.

In another journalism-related incident, a report issued by the U.S. State Department's Democracy and Human Rights office and submitted to Congress contains detailed information on challenges and progress in 15 Middle Eastern states, including Yemen.

The report mentioned that restrictions against press freedom are on the rise, declaring that harassments against Yemeni journalists “caused great damage to Yemen's reputation, which used to be the free press stronghold in the Middle East.” The report also mentioned the Sa'ada incidents and confirmed the U.S. commitment to supporting democracy and respect for human rights among other issues.