Targeting of Media Continues in Yemen

by mkleit

NYR | VIENNA, 9 Dec. 2011 – Despite former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s agreement to hand over power, the announcement of elections in February 2012 and the unveiling of a new unity government this week, protests and violence continue in Yemen – as do threats and attacks against journalists.

Hakim Almasmari, chief editor of the Yemen Post news website, told IPI that he did not see any light at the end of the tunnel for Yemeni media, despite the recent political developments.

“First of all, we expect more attacks in the next 70 days,” Almasmari told IPI. “[Saleh] signed the transfer but that does not mean he will leave power. He is still trying to build an alliance [to maintain power]. Any journalists who stand in the way of that are a threat.”

Almasmari said that with the continuing violence and total lack of security, less reporting on current events was to be expected. Electricity is still limited to a couple of hours each day, he said, and this had contributed to the lack of news coming from the country.

“A lot of … journalists right now are working from home, because they are too scared to leave their houses,” said Almasmari. Journalists are afraid for their lives, and so reports often come from “citizen journalists” using their mobile phones.

The Yemen Journalists’ Syndicate (YJS) has reported a number of attacks in recent days. On Wednesday, Swissinfo news agency correspondent Abdul Karim Salam was attacked and had his cell phone confiscated by a soldier while covering a protest march into Taiz province, the site of recent clashes between government and opposition forces, YJS reported. Salam was hospitalised in February after he was attacked while covering a sit-in at Sana’a University, Reporters without Borders (RSF) reported at the time.

YJS also called again for the release of journalist Abdul-Karim Theil, the editor of a revolutionary website, who was detained on 13 October along with two activists.

In November, the office of the Al-Tagheer Media Network office was attacked by unknown assailants throwing stones, and the premises of privately-owned newspaper Al-Adwhaa were broken into, resulting in the theft of laptops and equipment belonging to Chief Editor Ali al-Asadi, YJS said. The same newspaper was also attacked in June, RSF reported then. #Yemen #yf *2

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