Yemen: Yemen: The GCHR calls for the freedom of the press to be respected in Yemen
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) expresses serious concern at the attack on freedom of expression in Yemen as media stations and journalists are targeted.
On 21 September 2014, military command posts and government buildings in Sanaa including the national radio and TV stations were seized. Three state satellite TV stations, Yemen TV, Seba TV and Eman TV, are all based in the headquarters. Broadcasting was interrupted for a couple of hours and hundreds of journalists and other state TV employees were trapped in these buildings as they were being targeted. Access was denied to members of the journalists union and a human rights activist who wanted to evaluate the extent of the damage to the station.
On 22 September, control was seized of privately-owned television station, Suhail TV, on Al-Rabat Street in Sanaa. The premises were raided, broadcasting was suspended and journalists and other employees who were in the building at the time were detained inside.
Individual journalists have also been targeted. On 19 September the homes of presenter Mohamed Al Jama’i and journalist Ibrahim Al Haidam with privately-owned Yemen Shabab TV were hit with shells. The TV station is now broadcasting old programmes from a secret location, for fear of being attacked.
On 23 September, the homes of Al-Shoumoua’ Media Foundation director Saif Mohamed Ahmed Al-Hadari were raided, as was the foundation, which is the publisher of daily Akhbar Al-Youm.
On the same day, Mohamed Imad, a photographer who has been well known since his coverage of the 2011 revolution, was arrested as he walked down a street in Sanaa. He was searched and questioned and his mobile phone was confiscated. He was released a few hours later.
Homes of other journalists have also been raided and searched including Moubarak Al-Achoual and Youssef Al-Qadi, who both work for Al-Masdar. The home of former national television CEO Abdelghani Al-Shamiri was also searched.
Many journalists have reportedly gone into hiding and are censoring their work due to concerns for their safety and fear of reprisals for their work.
The GCHR views the above events as a direct assault on freedom of expression in the country. It expresses serious concern for the health and safety of journalists and for all those who peacefully and legitimately exercise their right to freedom of expression. It expresses further concern that journalists may face reprisals as a result of this work.