Yemen: Hear their voices: Watch short films in which Yemeni Journalists speak out about their profession under the current reality in the country

25.01.21

Hear directly from four different journalists in Yemen featured in films produced by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) with Yemeni partners about how war and poverty have affected their lives. They are four different people but with one very similar story. The story of losing not only one's income and means of survival, but also losing one's calling in life. These are not only stories of distress and hardship, but also of the strength and resilience of a people trying to survive in one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

Take this opportunity to hear about these journalists' journeys, difficulties and their hopes for the future of their country. The films feature two women and two men who through these films hope to have their voices heard beyond the borders of their countries and bring attention and support for the journalists of Yemen in general. “The films focus on the very real problem facing so many journalists that are not necessarily the most shocking, not the killings or kidnappings, which the media usually tends to focus on,” says Zaynab Al-Khawaja, GCHR’s Journalists Protection Coordinator.

The films were made in cooperation with AbdulRazzaq Al-Azazi, and directed by AbdulAziz Ali and filmed by AbdulKarim Al-Marani and Mohammed Walid Al-Kathiri of Saba Media. You can find the films on the GCHR’s YouTube channel in Arabic with English sub-titles here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSvW4OfdDtLEomIJLWeYgXOSN-8yWOskd

While the journalists in these films come from different areas, speak different dialects and the details of their conditions are different, their stories are very similar. They all tell the story of the Yemeni journalists who found themselves for reasons of war, poverty, or politics losing not only their main source of income, but also their calling in life. We hear Ali Hassan Al-Rimi, a news editor, tell us his story of how he ended up washing cars, three days a week from 8am to 6pm making 3-5 dollars a day, then finding odd jobs the rest of the week in order to survive. He ends by stating that all we want is for the war to end, and for people to live. Watch his story here.

Journalist Randa Saleh Abdo Akbour was a TV host and the head of the workers Union in Aden TV, who explains that because she stood up for the rights of employees she lost her job. She speaks of how in Yemen there no longer is space for independent journalists, and to secure a job one must be politicised. She now works selling plants. Watch her story here.

Managing editor Yehya Mohammad Al-Rabiey was left unemployed after the newspaper he worked for shut down because of financial troubles. He proudly shares with the viewer how he was discovered as a writer, even though because of an illness he had not finished his studies. How his love of writing got him promoted until he became the managing editor, and how his writings were put together and published in a book. When his salary stopped Al-Rubiey started working in hard labour jobs, with clay and bricks. When he found that he could not physically continue in this job he started working from a tricycle ice cream truck in front of a school, and when the school shut down because of the war, for the fourth time he was out looking for a job and a way to survive. "The organisations did not look after the journalists, (...) no one looks after the journalists, we live a very tough life, not just the journalists but all Yemeni people," he said. Watch his story here.

The final film, which was shown in Beirut at GCHR’s event for International Human Rights Day, is the story of Fatma Rashad, a journalist, a published author who wrote about women’s issues and a poet. Rashad describes the state of depression that she went into after she and her husband both lost their jobs, and their home. She speaks about having to secure a living for the family, and how she finally got herself up and started knitting dolls and clothes and selling them on Facebook. Rashad tells us how much she yearns to write, how even when she writes she can never publish, and how dangerous it is to be a journalist in Yemen. She says that the number of Yemenis who want to study journalism are decreasing because of these conditions. The film ends with Fatima reading some of her poetry. Watch her story here.

Along with the films, GCHR also published a report titled "The Battle Against the Trio of Hunger, Fear and Disease" in English and Arabic. In another attempt to highlight Yemeni voices, the report is a collection of quotes from Yemeni journalists on the ground expressing their views on the current situation. The beautiful art by a Yemeni artist on the front page shows journalist Nabil as a writer and working in another job to make a living.