World Association of News Publishers

WAN-IFRA and 29 IFEX members call on authorities in Yemen to respect and protect free expression as the country descends into further uncertainty

Language switcher

Available in:

WAN-IFRA and 29 IFEX members call on authorities in Yemen to respect and protect free expression as the country descends into further uncertainty

Article ID:


The Yemeni parliament voted on 23 March to implement a 30-day state of emergency, a move that grants significant extra powers to President 'Ali 'Abdullah Saleh's regime to continue its already brutal crackdown against anti-government protesters. The implications for journalists covering the demonstrations are unclear, and their ability to move around freely and safely cannot be guaranteed. In a letter to the President, WAN-IFRA urged free expression organisations to condemn the attacks on journalists and express their serious concern for the state of press freedom and free expression.


His Excellency General 'Ali 'Abdullah Saleh
Office of the President
Republic of Yemen

4 April 2011


We, the undersigned free expression organisations, condemn the serious violations of human rights and the targeting of journalists reporting on events taking place at this critical moment in Yemen.

The death of Jamal al-Sharaabi, a photojournalist for the independent weekly "Al-Masdar" shot on 18 March while covering the violent crackdown on Change (Taghyir) Square, is the latest tragedy in what appears to be the deliberate targeting of journalists covering pro-democracy demonstrations. Al-Sharaabi was among 52 individuals killed by security forces who opened fire on a protest against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The Yemeni Journalists' Syndicate (YJS) has documented more than 50 separate attacks on journalists since political unrest began in January. The attacks include abductions, assaults, confiscation of equipment, and threats of violence against journalists and their families.

Furthermore, International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) members have documented a series of attacks against local and foreign media. On 17 March, pro-government thugs seized an Al-Jazeera crew's camera as the station's correspondent, Hamdi Al-Bokari, was covering violence against demonstrators in the province of Taiz. That same day, journalist, writer and activist Bushra Al-Maqtari was injured when security agents tried to disperse a sit-in in Freedom Square in the city of Taiz. Mareb Press reporter Mohammed Al-Hozayfi was also injured when anti-riot police threw stones and used teargas to disperse the protesters.

The authorities have also obstructed the distribution of certain newspapers. Copies of the 17 and 18 March issues of "Akhbar Al-Yom" were seized at Sana'a airport to prevent them being sent to Aden, Al-Daleh, Lahej and Abyan. On 15 March, the authorities prevented distribution of the latest issue of the Aden-based newspaper "Al-Oumana" in the capital. The issue contained coverage of student demonstrations.

On 24 March, authorities ordered Al-Jazeera's offices to close and stripped its journalists of accreditation.

We, the undersigned organisations, call on the Yemeni authorities to immediately halt all attacks against the media and to ensure the protection and safety of journalists covering events in the country.

Furthermore, we call on President Saleh and his security forces to respect the right to freedom of expression and to allow journalists to go about their work freely, without fear of harassment or physical attack. With a volatile and increasingly tense situation unfolding, we demand that the authorities exercise maximum restraint and adhere to their obligations as laid out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which they are signatories and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which their Constitution commits to respect.



IFEX member signatories:

Andean Foundation for Media Observation & Study - INTERIM MEMBER

Arab Archives Institute

ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression

Association of Independent Electronic Media

Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

Center for Media Studies & Peace Building

Committee to Protect Journalists

Ethiopian Freepress Journalists' Association

Freedom House

Greek Helsinki Monitor

Hong Kong Journalists Association

Human Rights Network for Journalists - INTERIM MEMBER

Independent Journalism Center

Initiative for Freedom of Expression

Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information

Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela - INTERIM MEMBER

Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance

Media Foundation for West Africa

Media Watch

Mizzima News

Observatoire pour la liberté de presse, d'édition et de création

Pacific Freedom Forum

Pakistan Press Foundation

Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms

Reporters Without Borders

SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom (Samir Kassir Eyes) - INTERIM MEMBER

World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

World Press Freedom Committee


Non-IFEX member signatories:

International Media Support (IMS)


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2011-04-04 11:50

Contact information

The Arab Press Network (APN) is a digital network that supports a strong independent press in the Arab world by sharing, distributing and exchanging information between newspaper publishers, editors, journalists and human rights advocates. Read more ...

In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...