Journalists and activists targeted as Yemen's conflict rages
In the context of the ongoing civil war and the consequent human rights and humanitarian crises in Yemen, the right to freedom of expression continues to be violated. The media is being used as a weapon of war by all sides. Ongoing airstrikes, shelling and on-street combat have put the civilian population, journalists and human rights defenders at grave risk of injury and death. Attacks against human rights defenders and journalists including Abdelkarim Al-Khaiwani, who was murdered on 18th March 2015, are carried out with impunity. Since the beginning of 2016, six journalists have been murdered including Abdallah Azizan, Ma’reb Press website correspondent, who was killed on 29th May while covering clashes between rebels and pro-government forces in Bayhan.
On 8th May, military forces stormed the headquarters of the Al-Shomo’ Press Corporation and newspaper in Aden city and seized equipment. On 9th May, ten journalists detained by Houthi forces began a hunger strike in protest against their mistreatment which has included denial of access to medical treatment, visits and access to adequate nutrition. On 23rd May, the journalists were transferred from Al-Habra pre-trial detention facility to an unknown location and their whereabouts remain unknown. As of July 2016, fifteen journalists have been kidnapped in Yemen, 14 by rebel forces and 1 by Al-Qaeda. The fate of Mohammed Mokri, who was kidnapped by Al-Qaeda in Hadramout, remains unknown.
Human rights defenders and journalists have also reported that the dynamics within the country force them to self-censor and adhere to a “one for one” system of critiques. In other words, after reporting on Houthi attacks, they are “compelled to report on violence committed by government forces.” This has contributed to increased risks for human rights defenders and their families.
On 24th April, people gathered in Hudayah in southern Yemen to protest against Saudi Arabia's aggression against Yemen and the ongoing fuel and food siege. The protesters carried banners condemning Saudi Arabia’s actions and urging the international community to pressure the country to allow a ship carrying food and fuel to enter Hudayah. This protest came after thousands of protesters had gathered on 26th March also to protest against Saudi Arabia’s attacks against Yemen.
Human rights defenders (HRDs) have been caught in the crossfire of Yemen's civil war and directly targeted because of their legitimate activities in defense of human rights. HRDs have also been refused visas to travel to other countries and travel permits to leave Yemen. This has prevented them from exercising their right to freedom of expression and from sharing the reality of the situation in Yemen in international meetings.
Civic Space Developments