Press Freedoms at Risk in Southern Yemen

2020-02-05 05:14


The Journalist Support Committee: Press Freedoms at Risks in Southern Yemen

In less than a month, the Journalist Support Committee in Yemen recorded at least 6 violations against the press and media freedoms.

 As follows:

  1. On February 16, 2018, the Aden Center for Strategic Studies and Statistics and the headquarters of "Al-Youm Al-Thamen" daily newspaper in Al-Sa'ada district of Khormaksar Governorate were attacked by live bullets, causing extensive damage to the building and the headquarters.
  2. The arrest of journalist Awad Keshmim, a freedom official at the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, on Wednesday, February 21, 2018, in the coastal city of Mukalla in the southern province of Hadramout by the UAE and Saudi coalition backed government. Although the Prime Minister issued instructions for his release, he is still under arrest in solitary confinement at the military intelligence headquarters in Hadramout. He was arrested after criticizing "local forces in the south of the country, trained and financed by the United Arab Emirates", stating that they launched a false campaign against al Qaeda. On his Facebook page, Keshmim said that the UAE-trained forces were "talking about war, fighting, amassing troops ... yet no soldier was killed or wounded."
  3. On February 28, 2018, a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at a radio tower belonging to the local radio station "Bandar Aden", which damaged one of the iron pillars of the tower including several tanks and water pipes in the roof of the building belonging to citizens, which stopped transmission along with damaging technical equipment. Competent security forces came to the see for investigation, it is still unclear who is behind this act.
  4. At the end of February, journalist Fathi Ben Lazrak, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Aden al-Ghad, was summoned by the security services in Aden, where he disclosed a plot to assassinate him. He added that he had gone to the house of Eidros al-Zubaidi and presented him with evidence and documents on his murder plot, where he also met with Shallal Shayea in the presence of security deputy director Abu Baker Jaber who were committed to stopping the security officer behind his assassination plot. The journalist stated that "they told me to keep quiet and do not write about the incident and you have our word to keep you safe." After the event, the journalist was summoned by the security services in Aden, which was preceded by a large media campaign aimed to let slide a scheme of his liquidation and death. It is noteworthy that the journalist "Fathi Ben Zark" revealed the plan of his assassination after receiving a summons from the criminal investigation in the Department of Security of Aden on the background of a post published on his Facebook account.
  5. On 1 March 2018, armed men in military uniforms stormed the building of "Al-Shumou" institution and "Akhbar Al Youm" newspaper in the Green City of Aden. They also assaulted the employees before setting fire to the building, causing extensive damage, from burning printing press and its utter destruction to threatening workers by exposing their weapons and looting their mobile phones. The institution and the newspaper suffered as a result of this crime material losses exceeding one million dollars, in addition to moderate injuries sustained by workers including the secretary of "Akhbar Al-Youm" newspaper, Walid Al-Sharabi. As for the armed group, "The armed men were wearing the uniforms of the security forces of the UAE-backed security belt. They looted the organization's furniture, telephones and printing press, and the losses were estimated at more than $ 1 million," a witness told Sam News. The first video caught by security cameras shows the first moment of the storming of the institution and the expulsion of staff. The second videotape shows the moment when the masked men stormed into the institution.
  6. On March 8, 2018, journalist Salah al-Jundi, a reporter for "Al-Ayyam" newspaper in Taiz, was attacked in central Yemen by soldiers of the axis military command who held a weapon to his face and threatened to kill him and then was held detained in the office of education and assaulted him along with confiscating his camera.

These repressive incidents of press freedom in southern Yemen and the central province of Taiz by the UAE-backed forces are a serious indicator of the deterioration of press freedom and the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

The Committee condemns these violations, which constitute serious violations of the relevant international conventions, particularly Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, expressing their full solidarity with the journalists in Yemen and affirms their stand with freedom of opinion and expression.

The Committee also calls on the international community and the relevant international organizations to establish an impartial international commission of inquiry to investigate and hold accountable the violations and crimes against journalists and media workers in Yemen.

Journalist Support Committee - Yemen
13 March 2018