Yemen: Yemen - The National Security Apparatus threatened journalist Mohammed Al-Abbsi and the French Embassy refused to grant him and his colleague Sami Ghalib a visa to give a testimony before the Swedish Parliament
On 02 September 2013 journalist and human rights defender Mohammed Al-Abbsi published a letter addressed from the head of the National Security Agency to the Minister for Oil asking him to fire staff members of the Union of oil and gas from oil sector who are calling for a general strike, demanding better living conditions and refer them to the Attorney General as they are harming national security as stated in his letter.
The next day, between the hours of 8pm and 11pm, a government car bearing the number (20107) chased Mohammed Al-Abbsi in the streets of the capital Sana'a, while he was returning to his home, accompanied by one of his friends. Mohamed Al- Abbsi then published the registration number of the vehicle on his facebook page calling on the Yemeni government to stop harassment of journalists and human rights activists.
On 10 September 2013, the National Security Agency issued a threatening statement published on all the state TV channels and newspapers accusing Al-Abbsi of lying and distorting the facts and provoking discontent of the citizens about the security forces. It is worth mentioning that Al-Abbsi did not accuse nor mention the National Security Agency when he published the registration number of the vehicle that chased him.
Mohammed Al-Abbsi and his colleague, journalist and human rights defender Sami Ghalib -the Editor of the "Al-Neda'a" newspaper which was prevented from publication during the early months of the Yemen uprising in 2011 - received an invitation firstly from the Yemeni-Swedish Saloon to give testimony before the Swedish Parliament, also to visit some Swedish institutions, and secondly the International Media Support in Denmark to give another testimony about violations against journalists in Yemen at the University of Copenhagen . Although they submitted all the required papers and documents to obtain Schengen visas, on 3 September 2013, nineteen days before their travel date, the French embassy in Sana'a on 9 September 2013, refused to grant them the required visa without giving any compelling reasons for their rejection. Some reports by experts and journalists suggested that this rejection is linked to the activities of the two defenders in the field of human rights.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) is deeply concerned for the safety of Mohammed Al-Abbsi and calls on the Yemeni government to cease from targeting him. The GCHR also believes that the French Embassy's refusal to grant these two human rights defenders Schengen visas contrasts starkly with the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders adopted in June 2004 and revised in 2008.
The GCHR calls on the French embassy in Sana'a to reverse its refusal to grant a Schengen visa to Mohammed Al-Abbsi, and Sami Ghalib as their travel is directly linked to their work as journalists and their activities in the field of human rights.
The GCHR calls on the government of Yemen to:
1. Take all necessary measures to ensure the physical and psychological integrity and security of human rights defender Mohammed Al-Abbsi;
2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders and journalists in Yemen are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognizes the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to article 5 (a): “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels to meet or assemble peacefully”, and to Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”
Please write immediately in English or in Arabic:
1. To demand that the Yemen government immediately stop all threats and harassment of human rights defender Mohammed Al-Abbsi;
2. Urging the authorities in Yemen to immediately stop targeting all human rights defenders and journalists;
3. To express serious concern serious about the refusal of the French embassy in Sana'a to grant a Schengen visa to the human rights defenders and the demand to reverse the decision immediately;
4. To urge the French embassy in Sana'a to apply the guidelines of the European Union on human rights defenders.
Please Send Appeals now TO:
His Excellency Abd Rabbu Mansour Al-Hadi
President of the Republic of Yemen
Sana’a, Republic of Yemen
Fax: +967 1 274 147
His Excellency the French Ambassador in Yemen
P.O. Box 1286
Sana'a, Republic of Yemen
Fax number: +967 1 26 91 60