Yemen: IFJ urges release of brave journalist and union activist

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has joined its affiliate, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS), in urging the release of journalist and union activist Awad Kashmeem, who was arrested by local authorities on 21 February in Mokalla, Hadramout Province in Yemen.

Kashmeem is a journalist and director of the state-funded Baktheer Publishing Foundation and its newspaper, November 30. He is also the press freedom officer of the YJS´s branch in Hadramout.

Kashmeem´s arrest follows criticisms he made of local authorities and the services provided to citizens and also the lack of financial resources to the Foundation following the offices´ destruction by Al-Qaida in 2015.

On 21 February, he published his resignation letter saying: ¨I decided to submit my resignation after I tried to face up to the policy of the governorate of undermining my work through ignoring the needs of the Baktheer Publishing Foundation, not giving even one Riyal to get back to work after its infrastructure was completely destroyed. I will remain a strong defender of the state and its institutions and against the corruption and its symbols.”

The same day he was sacked and arrested by the local authorities. Reports said that he is being held in the local military headquarters and there are reports of him being abused and tortured.

“The YJS condemns this oppressive act and calls on the authorities in Hadramout to immediately release Kashmeem. The authorities are fully responsible for his safety and wellbeing,” said the YJS in a statement.

Anthony Bellanger, IFJ General Secretary, added: ¨ We stand by our colleague Awad Kshmeem and salute his courage for speaking truth to the power. The regional governors in Yemen report directly to the president of Yemen and he must take immediate actions to order his release and investigate the reports of his mistreatment.”

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