Yemeni Press Plight [Archives:2000/06/Focus]

February 7 2000

Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi,
Managing Editor
Yemen lived a long time of its history after its revolutions in the 1960s under the grip of one-party system, either in the North of South, where democracy was not to exist at all. After the Yemeni unification in 1999, Yemen adopted the democratic and pluralistic system as a means of governance. This led to the emergence of political parties and the launch of publications and press. For almost four years newspapers were able to produce brave reports on different issue; criticizing the rulers openly. But after the civil war of 1994 between the people’s general congress (PGC) and the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), the Yemeni press was put into the turmoil of different kinds of harassment and problems.
However, we shall first say that the situation of journalists is very miserable. They are among the poorest in the country. Calls have been raised to improve their situation but to no avail.
For the last few years, their syndicate was not working well because of the desire of the political parties to control it. It was only in 1999 that an election for new board for the syndicate was conducted. But it was boycotted by many journalists, particularly those working for the opposition newspapers since they accused the government of controlling the syndicate.
But the main ordeal facing the newspapers mainly opposition and independent since 1995 is that the cases being filed against such newspapers by the Ministry of Information now and again. But ironically we find that most of the newspapers won the cases against the Ministry of Information . Al-Shura (mouthpiece of the popular forces federation, now is blocked down since 26th September 1999, was brought to justice in August 1996, May 1997, September 1998 and March 1999.
Al-Wahdawi, mouthpiece of the Unionist Nasserite Party, was brought to justice in June 1998. Al-Thawri, mouth piece of the Yemeni Socialist Party, stood before court in January 1997 and June 1998.
A case was also filed against Al-Ray A’am (Independent) in September 1998 and it was blocked down several times. The last one was on 2/12/1998. Yemen Times, independent, was also brought to justice in 1998. Cases were also filed against other newspapers like Al-Sahwah (Islah party), Ray (Sons of Yemen League Party), Al-Haq, Al-Ayam.
For this, one could observe the panorama of events concerning the press in Yemen. It is a battle between the Ministry of Information on me side and the party and independent newspapers one the other. Now, the plight of the press in Yemen in to be clear to anybody.
other major headache faced by the media in Yemen is the various to barrage of harassments Yemeni Journalists are going through. Yemen journalists, thinkers, and opinion makers are subject to different sorts of harassment
To be continued next week