Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC) on Wednesday launched its annual report on violations against journalists and media professionals during 2016 in Yemen, in a forum held in the temporary capital Aden.
During the event entitled “Under Suppression.. The Press Freedom Situation in Yemen during 2016”, first undersecretary of ministry of information, Aiman Mohammed Nasser, stressed that the ministry is keen on to support and promote press freedoms.
In the same context, he called to coordinate efforts between journalists and the Ministry of Information to protect and defend journalists' rights, praising the role of WJWC in monitoring violations against journalists by the militias and forces loyal to ousted president Saleh in particular.
For his part, the head of YJS’s rights and freedoms committee in Aden, Amin Ahmed Abdu, pointed out violations and torture against journalists reflects barbarism of the Houthi militia and forces loyal to Saleh, which keep committing crimes day and night in clear violation of human rights and freedom of opinion and the other opinion. He also called on international organizations to put pressure on the militias to release all journalists being held captive in their prisons in the capital Sana’a.
Mr. Abdu praised the role of WJWC and its efforts made to protect press freedoms and keep them away from violations, stressing the desire of Yemeni Journalists' Syndicate to safeguard all the rights guaranteed by law.
In a paper under the title “the press situation in Yemen,” the head of Masarat Center for Media, Basim al-Sha’bi, emphasized that journalism along with journalists has suffered in Yemen over the past years from strict restrictions as they have closely related to political and social transformations Yemen has experienced for nearly a decade.
These transformations, as al-Sha’bi added, started with the outbreak of peaceful popular movement in southern Yemen, passing through the revolution of the peaceful youth revolution and ending with the recent popular resistance against the war against Yemenis waged by the coup’s alliance represented by the Houthi militia and ousted president.
According to al-Sha’bi, a large number of journalists have faced significant challenges as to delivering news and images from battlefields, pointing out, “we have seen many reporters and press photographers killed in Aden, Taiz, Marib, Sana'a and other Yemeni cities by snipers’ bullets in a way that indicated the extent of militias’ fear and anxiety over conveying the truth.
“To talk more broadly about challenges, we can say that all journalists and media professionals –from all parties- who participated in the coverage of events of the war have faced huge challenges and risked themselves in a way reflecting their exceptional courage and their belief in freedom of speech,” he explained.
Al-Sha’bi called on the legitimate government to transfer the headquarters of Yemeni Journalists Syndicate to the capital of Aden, so it could play a better role in protecting journalists, away from pressures of the putschists.
He called also to establish a conglomerate of civil society organizations in Aden to defend journalists and media workers as well as promote freedom of opinion and expression.
In addition, he suggested:
-exerting pressure on the legitimate government to adopt issues of journalists detained by the putschists and doing the best to release them, helping their families, allocating monthly payments to journalists and media workers killed during demonstrations of peaceful movement, the popular youth revolution or popular resistance and treating the wounded;
- establishing a media center affiliated to the Arab coalition and the legitimate government in Aden in order to provide journalists with information and coordinate interviews and meetings with relevant parties;
- putting pressure to restore the headquarters of YJS in Aden and all of its property;
- working to let Aden TV and Aden Radio rebroadcast and revitalize Saba News Agency from Aden;
Ghaida al-Nakhebi, a human rights activist, in turn, said in a speech in behalf of WJWC: “We have been keen to hold this event in the city of Aden for many reasons: Aden is the temporary capital and deemed to be the city of press because it witnessed the birth of newspapers about a hundred years from now.”
Al-Nakhebi added that journalism is originally an arduous work, but in the era of Houthis and ousted president’s coup has become a dangerous profession whose practitioners face the risk of murder, torture, abduction and repression, noting that the putschists have exercised various forms of violations against journalists.
“The Houthi militia leader, Abdulmalik al-Houthi, considered journalists and media workers more dangerous than fighters and mercenaries, and this, for us in WJWC, is not a mere incitement, but a direct order to target journalists,” she continued.
She also pointed out that 12 journalists are still being captive in prisons of the putschists and that WJWC calls for the world to put pressure on the Houthi militia to release before talking about any peace plan.
Al-Nakhebi concluded by saying that releasing journalists is essential to know whether Houthis and Saleh are ready to abide by peace terms and fully comply with Security Council resolutions and the document of the comprehensive national dialogue.