Women Journalists Without Chains YOUTUBE
Killings 1 3 2 2 8 3.80%
abduction 8 9 12 5 5 10 49 23.33%
Assaults 14 9 7 1 2 33 15.71%
Arrest and detention 5 7 1 3 16 7.61%
Closures and raids of newspaper and TV channels 3 2 10 3 2 3 23 10.95%
Prevention of media coverage 2 2 0.95%
Death threats 7 3 1 2 13 6.19%
Attempted murders 1 2 3 1.42%
Instigation and defamation 2 1 2 3 8 3.80%
Looting and confiscation 5 1 1 7 3.33%
Denial of payment 14 4 3 21 10%
Website blackouts 6 5 2 13 26 12.38%
Manhunts 1 1 0.47%
Total 47 44 46 20 23 30 210
Percentage 22.38% 20.95% 21.90% 9.52% 10.95% 14.28% 100%
The Houthi militia led the abusers of media freedom, committing 143 violations or 68.09% of the total breaches, and the Ministry of Telecommunication came in second with 26 such violations.
The table below demonstrates key violators:
S/N Violating agencies Number Percentage
1 Houthi militia 143 68.09%
2 Ministry of Telecommunications 26 12.38%
3 Unidentified gunmen 21 10%
4 Security and military forces 7 3.33%
5 Terrorist forces 5 2.38%
6 Coalition forces 2 0.95%
7 Presidential guards 2 0.95%
8 Influential forces 4 1.90%
Total 210 100%
Violations reached high and unprecedented levels, thus posing serious threats to journalists and media organizations alike.
Worse still, media freedom has experienced the most chilling crackdowns yet in decades, which culminated in the killing of eight journalists during the first half of the current year-a serious indication of the rising level of threats to media liberties in the country.
Of the most heinous crimes perpetrated by the Houthi militia against journalist was the group's use of newsmen as human shields as happened to Abdullah Qabel and Yusuf Al-Aizari, correspondents of Yemen Shabab and Suhail TV channels. The militia held both journalists on Haran Mount in Dhamar province, which was later heavily bombarded by Arab Coalition forces, with the pair ended up being killed in the bombing. Though the Yemeni Journalists' Syndicate (YJS) had already cautioned the militia of the serious consequences of such very reckless act, but the Houthis didn't heed the warning.
This same crime by the Houthi group is categorized by international law as a war crime, particularly as the militia turned a deaf ear to all calls and demands for it to not hold the duo along with several civilians at a place, which was a potential target of airstrikes. This wantonly reckless act was indicative of the fact that the group was avid for killing journalists.
Other extremist forces were implicated in the killing of journalists, if only minimally. Abdul Kareem Al-Khaiwani, who was shot dead by Al-Qaeda group, was a case in point. Further, newsmen and media personnel were killed in Coalition's airstrikes on arms depots on Attan mountain.
According to the above statistics, the Houthi group presented itself as a staunch enemy for journalists and media outfits. Since the capture of Sana'a, the group have been willfully storming media outfits' offices as evidenced by its takeover of the mainstream media organizations.
It then proceeded to seize the private and partisan media close to the Islah party, such as Suhail and Yemen Shebab TV channels, which are still being occupied by the Houthi gunmen, who also looted their equipment, detained a number of their employees, and hounded many others.
With the outbreak of youth and student protests against the Houthis' seizure of Sana'a and the state institutions, a lot of journalists, mainly the correspondents of foreign media, were subject to nefarious assaults, manhunts, intimidation, and arrests, an appallingly chilling scene of terrorization and trepidation.
The organization recorded high figures on the number of journalists arrested during the first half of this year. It monitored roughly 49 abductions and 16 arrests and detentions. Around 11 journalists are still languishing in Houthi detention centers, including Waheed Al-Sufi, chief editor of Al-Arabiya online, who has been forcibly disappeared by the militia.
Obviously, arrest and manhunt campaigns were among the felonies that topped the list of the breaches perpetrated by the Houthis over the past six months. Correspondents of foreign media outlets and most journalists working for local media organizations were susceptible to manhunts and death threats, which prompted them to go abroad or leave Sana'a for safer areas and villages.
Houses of journalists and their media agencies were not spared storming and surveillance by the Houthis, a terrifying practice that even targeted the families of some journalists.
The group has pressed ahead with its war on the media and journalists, out of belief that they can quell dissenting voices and conceal their illegal acts. It also intentionally harrowed opposing media outlets with an aim to retain only those propagating its policies and doctrines. For instance, it shuttered the offices of dozens of Arab and international TV channels, including Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya TV channels, among others.
Besides, the militia stormed and closed down the offices of many local newspapers and TV channels , including Suahi, Yemen Shabab, Al-Saeeda, Bilquis and Maeen TV channels, as well as Al-Masdar, Al-Nass and Akhbar Al-Youm newspapers.
The Houthis' repressive measures were no doubt intended to subdue dissent and wipe off political pluralism that spawned freedom of opinion and expression, and which is the most significant dividend of the Yemeni reunification. The group's totalitarian approach to media freedom translates into antagonistic practices as manifested in the blackout and hacking of dozens of news websites.
It also blocked news text messages SMS, and impounded the equipment of many journalists, cameramen and media outlets. Following their seizure of some mainstream media outlets, the Houthis denied monthly payments, allowances and incentives to hundreds of media persons. It dismissed many dissenting journalists, replacing them with loyalists, some of whom are not professional or qualified, a move that reflects negatively on the living conditions of journalists and their families.
More importantly, the militia launched incitement and smear campaigns against many journalists and news organizations. It also posted portraits of several newsmen on the streets, accusing them of treachery and espionage. It even charged a number of politicians and journalists with grand treason.
Such terrorism against journalists divulges the group's enmity towards freedom of opinion and expression, and projected the magnitude of the risks , which threaten the fourth state of the realm, as well as the perilous media ambiance.
The economic and security situation occasioned by the group's reckless acts resulted in many newspapers going haywire due to the downward spiral of their distribution across the cities that have run out of oil products , let alone the surge in the prices of fuel sold on the black market. This plunged many journalists into a catastrophic situation as their employers could no longer pay their remunerations.
Other extremist forces, mainly Al-Qaeda, were also involved in the violence exercised against journalists, albeit in tiny proportions.
The events that took place in the country in the past six month proved the conflict parties' antagonism to freedom of expression and opinion, especially as some presidential guards colluded with the elements that committed violations against journalists earlier this year.
In all, risks to freedom of opinion are on the increase due to the Houthis' unscrupulous acts.
Impunity from Punishment
In all cases of the flagrant violations perpetrated against Yemeni journalists, not even one single abuser has been persecuted despite the fact that the violators were identified-be they agencies, individuals, or groups. And calls for the concerned authorities to bring the culprits to justice fell on deaf ears.
The right to prosecute all those involved in killing journalists and violating freedom of the press would remain as the key demand of journalists, one that is not subject to the statute of limitations.