WJWC releases report of "Nothing is safe"
Women Journalist Without Chains (WJWC) has released a report entitled "Nothing is safe" at the Human Rights Council based in the Swiss Capital, Geneva.
The report released on Friday documents violations committed against civilians and journalists during the war in Yemen. It also documents the cases of abductions, enforced disappearance and landmine victims.
It consists of three chapters; the violations committed against civilians by the bombardment of heavy weapons, air-strikes, direct shooting and mines during a year of the war, infringements committed against press freedom in Yemen during a year and a half of the war, and the detainees and enforced disappearanceduring a year and a half of the war.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawkol Karman said that Yemen was slowly moving to build up a federal state before 21 September 2014, referring that no a long time had passed since the conclusion of the National Dialogue Conference which set overall foundations for building up the new federal state.
"It was set that these foundations would guaranteethereaching of a secure democratic transition" Karman added.
She cited that the takeover of Sana'a by the Houthis and forces of former President Ali Abddullah Saleh in September 21, 2014 underminedthe political process and the state institutions. However, their acts were confronted by all civil society organizations, and media and intellectual, political elites.
The Houthi takeover was also rejected by the international community as the UN Security Council issued three resolutions regarding Yemen. They are the resolutions No. 2201, 2204 and 2216. All these resolutions emphasized the international community's support to the legitimate government and Yemen's unity, security and democracy.
Karman pointed out that the militias of the Houthis and Saleh have been continuing their control on Yemen's governorates and the state institutions, and that they rejected the UN resolutions and the National Dialogue Conference's outcomes.
She spelt out that the behaviors of the Houthis led to the emergence of a popularresistance backed by some military brigades in the South and most Yemeni northern governorates.
"In addition, most social segments of the Yemeni people have been struggling , demanding to put an end to the Houthi coup and the return to the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference. They also demanded to end to the war and resume the peace process on the basis of the National Dialogue Conference's outcomes. In the end, the deteriorating internal situation caused a military intervention of the Arab Coalition led by Saudi Arabia" she added.
Karman cited that the forces of Saleh used the strategy of besieging the cities which refused their takeover, reiterating that they bombed these cities and staged wars against them.
"The Houthis planted tens of thousands of landmines around cities, particularly when they withdraw from areas. Moreover, thousands of politicians, activists writers and oppositionists were detained and enforcedly disappeared by Houthi militias, and thousands of them are still languishing inside underground custodies and jails" she continued.
Karman said that rights and freedoms are infringed on a daily basis in most governorates which were taken over by the Houthis, pointing out that WJWC's report documentscases of these violations which WJWC could access to them.
Karman cited that the Arab Coalition's strikes still hit civilians, their houses, bridges, stations and transportation means in error, kill and wound civilians.
Shementioned that the report counted the cases of infringements professionally, referring thatWJWC's field team could not register some infringements because Houthi militias barred them from the access to their scenes, orthe team was surrounded with dangers which might jeopardize the lives of its members. The team could not also document the cases of anti-aircraft munitions' victims due to the domination of Houthi militias on the capital Sana'a.
"Meanwhile, WJWC's field team followed up about 1340 cases of violations which most of them occurred in the governorates of Taiz, Aden and al-Dhala'a" Karman continued.
She said that the report's figures are not inclusive, pointing out that WJWC's field team faced difficultiesin transportation to some governorates such as Saadah, al-Baidha and al-Jawaf.
"The figures are truthful, and we could access to factual informationsuch as the names of killed and wounded persons in most cases" she added.
Ebrahim al-Qa'atabi, an activist who contributed in the preparation of the report, said that nothing is safe in Yemen, affirming that while the war stops in a place, it rages in another one, and this doubles the losses of life and properties, and causes damages to peace and social fabric.
Al-Qa'atabi said that the total number of the civilians who were killed by militias of the Houthis in the report's period amounted 1424 persons (50%) including 308 children and 109 women. The total number of thecivilianswho were killed by the Arab Coalition is 1230 (40 %) including 313 children and 169 women.
As for wounded persons, al-Qa'atabi said that the largest numberof casualties fell as a result of bombarding cities by forces of the Houthis and Saleh, particularly the cities ofTaiz and al-Dhala'a and Aden. The total figure of the wounded in these cities amounted 6090 (72%) including 1763 children and 583 women. Meantime, the air-strikes of the Arab Coalition's forces caused the injures of 1122 persons including 237 children and 130 women.
"According to the investigations conducted by WJWC's field team, most attacks targeted streets, with a number of 528 cases (46%), then houses 513 (45%). This indicates that the targets were randomly bombed" Al-Quaiti continued.
"According to findings reached by WJWC's team, most casualties of civilians fell as a result of using heavy weapons, the number of cases amounted 443 (39%). Then, the attacks with live bullets came second; 430 (38%) cases were registered. These cases included sniping which killed and wounded hundreds of civilians" al-Qa'atabi went on.
Aswan Shahir, an activist who contributed in the preparation of the report, presented an overview on the journalism press situation in Yemen, indicating that Houthi militias are interested in restricting press, stressing that they close down buildings and headquarters of media outlets, loot their contents, detain and pursue journalists and persecute them.
She said that Houthi militias believe that journalists adopt different opinions and that they commit treason when they oppose. Thereby, they define the good Journalist as the one who supports the decision of their leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi who said in a TV address broadcasted on September 19, 2015 that writers and journalists are traitors, and "more dangerous than the combatants and mercenaries" who fight his militias in the battle fronts".
"He evidently incited against journalists and writers in his address. Therefore, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)warned against targeting journalists in Yemen and demanded al-Houthi to direct his followers to avoid attacking journalists, pointing out that such acts are violations against the Humanitarian International Law and other human rights laws".
Shair said that ideological militias who believe that they are always right do not take such warnings into consideration, citing that the Houthis and Saleh share with the legitimate government, groups fighting on the ground and the popular resistance the skepticism toward journalists, pointing out that the Houthi militias are more fierce and violent because they believe that they always right.
She emphasized that the war in Yemen contributed in the increase of violations against journalists and making them targets for the conflicting parties, in contrary to the Geneva Convention which stipulates to consider journalists during wars as civilians and not as fighters.
Shahir further mentioned that the report documented about 368 violations made against journalists and media companies during the period from January 2015 to June 2016, making clear that the report included 13 sorts of infringements as follows: murder, attempted murder and extra-legal detention, incursions, closing down of media companies, beatings, illegal prosecution, incitement and insults, shelling and bombing, baring from pring and confiscation, blocking of websites and threats.
Shahir spelt out that there are main conclusions which may be reached through reading the chart of violations and those were behind the violations. The first conclusion is that a substantial number of violations was committed in a country which is still seeking to strengthen media companies though it has a narrow margin of political and journalism freedoms.
"Among conclusions is the irresponsible dealing with a sensitive subject which is freedom of expression, particularly journalism. The de facto authorities; the Houthi militias which allied with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh decided to control everything with the aim of achieving their ends. They determined their presumed opponents who are expected to oppose as opponents. It also seems that they determined journalists as bitter enemies who must be encountered with all means" Shahir added.
"The conclusions also indicate that all conflicting sides largely distrust journalism and journalists, though the percentages are varied. Nevertheless, it is clear that the alliance of Saleh and the Houthis which controls Sana'a City and the state institutions commits more violations than the others. This alliance commits violations because it believes that these acts will help it in implementing its political plans" she continued.
Shahir spelt out that violations committed by militias of the Houthis and Saleh against journalists and media companies amounted 281 (76.4%) and the other sides which include the Arab Coalition, the legitimate government, terrorist groups and identified or unidentified gunmen committed 87 violations (23.6%).
"The second conclusion affirms that the forces ofSaleh and the Houthis are responsible for the substantial number of illegal detentions of journalists. The figure of illegal detentions is 120 cases. 98 of these cases (82%) were made by the alliance of Saleh and the Houthis" she went on.
Shahir said that the report registered78 cases of blocking websites and closing down of newspapers, radios and TV channels. 74 (95%) of these cases were committed by the alliance of Saleh and the Houthis. This indicates that this alliance decided to clear Yemen outof media outlets, competition and variation" she added.
She also cited that Sana'a City as alone witnessed 219 (62%) out of 352 violations included in the report. Most violations occurred in Sana'a City because it is the capital in which most media outlets base.
Shahir stressed that violations have not ended, and they have increased in the current year, pointing out that the violations made in the last three months of 2015 amounted 58 while they increased to 62 infringements in the first three months of 2016.
She emphasized that the war discloses to what extent journalism is severely cracked down in
Meanwhile, the coordinator of WJWC's field team Basheer al-Misbahi said that this report is a notificationto the international organizations concerned with protecting human rights, pointing out that it is considered a human rights and historic reference which activists and researchers concerned with human rights situation in Yemen may take advantage of.
"No one day passes without falling casualties of civilians and the report entitled "Nothing is safe" monitored a lot of cases which breaches the International Humanitarian Law.
Al-Misbahi made clear that the preparation of this report went through several stages during which WJWC committed to the highest degree of professionalism, discipline and fully aligned to the truth and transparency a way from effects of the war and its sides.
He signaled out that a major working team and sub-working teams participated in the achievement of the report which took several months. Due to the war conditions, the teams faced a lot of difficulties which some of them were mentioned in the report. The warhad bad consequences on human rights activitiesin Yemen. However, WJWC exerted efforts, managed to overcome the obstacles andaccomplish the report.
"While WJWC presents this considerable effort to the international public opinion, supporters of rights, and freedoms and international bodies concerned with protecting human rights, it calls all parties to commit to morality of war and spare civilians from the war consequences according to the international conventions and treaties, primarily the International Humanitarian Law.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of WJWC Bushra al-Surabi said that Yemen entered a dark tunnel after the coup of 21 September, 2014 which blew up the war, pointing out that the media companies collapsed and freedoms deteriorated unprecedentedly. She also emphasized that the political process which was supposed to come up with holding a referendum on a new constitution and presidential and parliamentary elections.
Al-Surabi said that WJWC worked during the past stage to monitor and document infringements committed against civilians during a year of war. This stage extends from March 2015 to March 2016.
"We managed to register a substantial number of the killed and wounded names, then we documented the place of violations; whether they occurred at houses, streets, schools or any other places, the sort of usedweapons; whether they were targeted with direct shooting or bombarded with heavy weapons or air-strikes" she added.
Al-Surabi spelt out that the report revealed that most violations occurred at houses and streets at a rate of (91%) and this is a very large percentage which evidently indicates that most fight operations target civilians.
"According to the reports prepared by our field team, most violations were committed by Houthi militias and forces of Saleh who have heavy weapons and control the entrances and exits of cities in which wars are still ongoing" Al-Surabi said.
She also said that WJWC'sfield team worked to document, monitor and verify the authentication of the violation cases, indicating that the report did not include all cases occurred in Yemen during the report preparation period, but it covered the cases which WJWC's team could follow up them.
"It was difficult to work in some governorates owing to the domination of the Houthi militias, the deteriorating security situation, fierce fights or the lack to appropriate work environment" she explained.
WJWC could not accurately document violations of anti-aircraft munitions because the team could not move freely, visit some areas and review registers of hospitals at the current time due to the control of Salah and Houthi militias.
Al-Surabi reiterated that the report includes a special part on journalism freedoms in the period from January 2015 to June 2016, mentioning that the conclusions of the report indicate that journalism was severely repressed.
"If repressions made against media companies and pursuit of journalists last in this way, there will not be Yemeni press in the future and this is undoubtedly a very bad deterioration" she added.
"We monitored about 368 infringements made against journalists and media companies. These infringements included 13 sorts; extra-legal detentions, torture, killing, beatings, threats, blocking websites, closing down and storming of media outlets".
We excluded work abuses because we could not count all cases which include this sort of violations so far. Therefore, we decided to include this kind of violations in WJWC's final report" al-Surabi added.
She emphasized that the press faces big challenges during wars, pointing out the leader of the Houthi Movement Abdul-Mallik al-Houthi threatened journalists during his speech delivered in last September and considered them "more dangerous than the fighters in the war fronts". She also said that his threat is an indication that press in Yemen will face a darker future.
"Though the alliance of Saleh and the Houthis are responsible for 76.5% of the total violations, the other parties of the conflict don't believe on the benefit of a free competitive journalism work" she added.
"What can be mentioned here is that authoritarian and religiously extremist groups are the most fierce and violent against journalism and journalists" she continued.
She signaled out that this war caused so much misery and suffering , making everything in Yemen unsafe, asking all people to do best in order to end to this war.
Al-Surabi further emphasized that infringements will be ended only if the war stops, a sustainable peace which ensures the return of the state institutions is reached, and the militias and armed groups which adopt terror acts under different names disappear.
She affirmed that WJWC is currently operating to monitor and document violations at the war stage, making clear that the final report will be issued at the end of the current year. It will cover all what is relating to mines, detainees and enforced disappearance.
The former Human Rights Minister Hureyah Mashhoor spoke about detainees and enforced disappearance, stressing that human rights are viciously infringed in Yemen.