Sana’a, July 5 — The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate launched a campaign on Tuesday called “in solidarity with the first line journalists of the Arab Spring” to support journalists who suffered during covering the political events.
The syndicate plans to start different workshops to train journalists on how to protect themselves while covering clashes. The training will include security and medical sessions.
“We [the journalists] must strengthen our relationships with International civil society organizations,” said Mohammed Al-Ghubari, Reuter’s correspondent in Yemen. “We have to expand our cooperation with human rights organizations locally and internationally as a means of protection that may help reducing the continued attacks,” he added.
According to Al-Gubari the pressure on the journalist nowadays is doubled as both the state and opposition expect him to serve their point of view.
Amar Al-Sakkaf, independent freelance reporter from Change Square said that the independent journalists suffer the most. “The state accuses us of serving foreign agendas and the opposition accuses us of being national security agents,” he said.
During the campaign’s launch journalists complained that violations against them and against newspapers increased recently by different governmental bodies.
For example, journalist Mohammed Al-Yafe’e, deputy director of the Yemeni Educational Channel affiliated with the Ministry of Education was kidnapped from the street while heading to his work at the channel. His colleagues in the diplomatic and administrators coalition accused the state of orchestrating this since he has joined the revolution.
Also, BBC correspondent Abdullah Ghurab complained that he was threatened twice by Ahmed Al-Sofi the president’s media advisor because of his critical coverage. Ghurab was beaten by thugs while covering one of the clashes between the security and anti-government protesters last February.
Some national newspapers including The Yemen Times, were prevented from being distributed outside the capital city and some were even confiscated by security officers.
Al-Oula, a daily independent newspaper was confiscated 22 times during last month according to its management; it was only allowed to be distributed outside Sana’a eight times.
Other opposition newspapers suffer the same fate.
“It has been two months now and the newspaper can’t get out of Sana’a” said Rajeh Badi, Editor-in-chief of Al-Sahwa newspaper affiliated with the Islah opposition party. Newspapers depending on sales are going through a real financial crisis these days. Many newspapers face the threat of closing down due.”
Some journalists are complaining of more difficulties in accessing information.
“There is confusion over the credibility of what is being reported even in the same media outlet because we don’t have access to information, which makes the news misleading and lack credibility,” said editor Sameer Al-Yousifi.
Some international press correspondents’ licenses were confiscated according to Jamal An’am, Rights and Freedoms officer at the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate.
Shawqi Shaher, head of the media department of the Information Ministry responded that the correspondents themselves don’t follow the legal procedures in renewing their licenses.
Moreover, the official state news agency Saba was attacked during the Al-Hasab armed conflict; the journalists were surrounded and trapped inside the building for more than 6 hours, said Mansour Al-Jaradi of the agency.