Yemen: Yemen: Journalist and activist Abdulkarim Al-Khaiwani murdered

18.03.15

Journalist and activist Abdulkarim Al-Khaiwani was murdered today, 18 March 2015, in Sanaa, Yemen reports the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR). Freedom Foundation Yemen has reported that armed men riding on a motorbike gunned down Al-Khaiwani this morning after he had just left his house, and the NGO’s sources attributed his murder to “his daring and courageous writings.”

Al-Khaiwani recounted to GCHR during its mission to Yemen in April 2013, the numerous attacks, threats and imprisonment that he had faced, "The only thing they haven’t done to me is to kill me," he told GCHR. Unfortunately his worst fears came true.

Al-Khaiwani is a political journalist and former editor-in-chief of the pro-democracy online newspaper Al-Shoura. He became a member of the National Dialogue Conference on behalf of Ansar Allah (Houthi Rebels) and a goodwill ambassador of the International Council for Human Rights in Yemen. Prior to 2011, he persisted in writing articles fiercely critical of the Saleh regime despite being convicted and imprisoned five times for the views expressed in his articles. His daughter was beaten unconscious during his arrest in 2007, and his house was shot at.  In June 2008, he was sentenced to six years in prison for writing critical articles about the war with the Houthis the previous year. He was never told the precise nature of the charge. President Saleh pardoned and released him in September 2008. That same year, Amnesty International awarded him their Special Award for Human Rights Journalism Under Threat in recognition of his consistent courage.

In an interview with GCHR, #SupportYemen media co-founder Rooj Al-Wazir said: “When we talk about non-violent struggle this is a great example of it. Yemeni journalists and specifically Abdulkarim was determined to investigate and expose the truth even when he knew his life was in danger. He often said, we must and we will continue.”

During the GCHR mission to Yemen in 2013, Al-Khaiwani expressed to GCHR that “in this transitional period it is harder to tell who is ordering the violence.” According to the mission report, he believed that “the violence against him originated with conservative Islamic forces inspired by or under the control of Islah who are seeking to divert the progressive momentum of the revolution. He has suffered numerous attacks since former President Saleh was forced to step down. He has been threatened with violence with knives and there was an incident in which gunmen who surrounded his house threatened him, firing shots at the house, terrifying him and his family.” (See: https://www.gc4hr.org/report/view/16).

"I knew Abdulkarim for many years as a very brave journalist and human rights defender. He dreamed about a new prosperous Yemen in which there is no violence or discrimination but only social justice. No doubt he will be missed as a prominent activist who tried to be a bridge for peace in the country," said Khalid Ibrahim, GCHR Co-Director.

GCHR calls on the Yemeni government to carry out an immediate, impartial and thorough investigation into the execution of Abdulkarim Al-Khaiwani and other crimes against human rights committed in Yemen with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in line with local laws and international standards.