Al-Jazeera’s staff in Yemen suffering threats and assaults By: Shatha Al-Harazi
Al-Jazeera’s staff in Yemen suffering threats and assaults
SANA’A, Mar. 23 – A cameraman for Al-Jazeera was beaten by pro-government “thugs” in Taiz on Wednesday morning. The morning before, “thugs” broke into Al-Jazeera’s office in the capital Sana’a and stole their equipment, according to eyewitness. Two of Al-Jazeera’s correspondents were deported from Yemen on Friday night.
Mujeeb Sowailh, an Al-Jazeera cameraman in Taiz, is in hospital after “thugs” broke his hand while he was filming at Freedom Square, where an anti-government sit-in has been taking place, according to his colleague Mohammed Al-Saeed.
Al-Saeed, who is Al-Jazeera’s cameraman in Sana’a, told the Yemen Times that he also found Wednesday morning the most intimidating day so far covering the news in Yemen. “I experienced much harassment while doing my job today, covering the news at the parliament. They cursed me and I received many threats,” said Al-Saeed.
Al-Mutamer.net, the ruling party website, reported Tarq Al-Shami, the ruling party’s spokesman, as saying that Al-Jazeera was inciting to destroy Yemen’s stability and that it’s not covering the situation in Yemen professionally.
On Tuesday morning around 2:00am, 20 masked and armed men broke into the Al-Jazeera office in Sana’a. A resident from the same building who witnessed the attack, told the Yemen Times that two old land cruisers with tinted windows and without number plates brought the attackers.
“First they held the building’s guards, and they had electronic tools to break into the office,” said the source who asked to remain anonymous.
After the theft of Al-Jazeera’s equipment, the office in Sana’a now only conducts administrative work, according to Al-Saeed.
Ahmed Al-Shalafi, Al-Jazeera’s reporter in Sana’a, has been receiving threats for his coverage of the events in Change Square, near the Sana’a University. According to Al-Jazeera.net, Al-Shalafi has also received threats that his children would be kidnaped.
“We are not scared of these threats. Al-Jazeera’s correspondents are truthful witnesses, and they transfer what’s happening.” The Yemen Times attempted to contact Al-Shalafi six times to confirm if he was still receiving threats, but he could not be reached by phone.
On Tuesday, President Saleh claimed that the political unrest in Yemen was a consequence of a hostile media.
Jamal Ana’am, a rights and freedoms officer at the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, told the Yemen times that even the syndicate had received threats from the state. “Even though a state of emergency has now been declared, it makes no difference for journalists as they were never treated fairly by the state. We already live in the emergency situation,” said Ana’am.
The syndicate condemns the state’s practises against Al-Jazeera and other journalists that have been covering the protests.
“We demand the state to take a moral stand, and to act within its responsibility towards journalists,” said Ana’am. He also asked the protesters for more protection for journalists at the protests. “The protesters should make sure that thugs aren’t able to get into the protest area. In that way we guarantee better protection for the journalists,” he added.