Yemen: Repeated threats to journalists and activists reflect a serious decline in the Freedom of Opinion and Expression Index
Stockholm- Skyline International states that the repeated arrests and threats against journalists and media professionals in Yemen seriously violate the international legal rules that guarantee freedom of opinion, expression and journalistic work without restriction, threat or prosecution. It stresses that such incidents indicate the deteriorating human rights condition that the country is witnessing at all levels.
In a statement issued today, Tuesday, Skyline greatly condemns the abduction of journalists, "Naif Ghaleb Al-Wafi" and "Taha Saleh". Both journalists were threatened and kidnapped by unknown parties lately on August 16, without identifying the reasons behind the arrest.
Al-Wafi said in a post on his Facebook page, “On Monday, August 16, 2021, at midnight, I received a call asking me to leave the house as soon as possible, because my life is in danger, and that there are superior orders to arrest me.” He added, "I went out of the house in disguise, and after I left the house, one of the military crews arrived with a group of masked armed men. The armed men spread out next to the house and were looking for me in the alleys of the neighborhood and then moved towards the house of my colleague, journalist Taha Saleh." He added, "I hid in a place for a whole night, far from my family, who lived in great fear and terror, and they did not know my fate."
Al-Wafi further said, “I did not receive any official request to come to the concerned state headquarters, but hours before the incident, a person called me, and next to him was a person named Abdo Al-Behairi, who works as head of the Military Intelligence Division. This person asked me to come to the division’s headquarters, and told me that the matter is private that he does not want to talk about it on the phone, but I claimed that I am busy and told him that we would meet the next day.”
Skyline states that the same happened to journalist "Taha Saleh". Saleh stated on his Facebook account, "my house was surrounded in an attempt to be stormed it on Monday's evening, August 16, 2021, by a military crew, accompanied by a number of masked armed men. I received a call from one of my friends asking me to leave the house and that one of the crews came to arrest me and my colleague Naif al-Wafi, and that my colleague had fled his house and I had to leave the house. But while I was getting ready to leave the house, I was surprised by the I was surprised by the armed men, they spread in front of the house, as one of them broke into the gate of the building in which I lived. I had no choice but to stay at home and wait for them to break in."
He added, I, my wife and my children were terrified, and I tried to communicate with the official authorities, but they answered me that the military force that came to my house did not belong them and that they did not send any force. Neighbors gathered to prevent the armed men from storming the house, so the soldiers told them that they were following the officer Anwar al-Jundi, the military security commander in the Taiz axis and the first responsible for the Taiz axis prison.
"Taha" stated that "the people of my neighborhood were able to prevent the military crews from entering the house after they surrounded it for more than half an hour. My family and I are still in danger because the security services have not assumed their role yet. Rather, they were satisfied with publishing an official statement denying that I am threatened". Prior to this incident, Taha had received various threatening messages from unknown parties due to his solidarity with the Al-Harq family on his Facebook account.
For its part, "Skyline" holds the Yemeni government, especially the security authorities, responsible for its failure to provide adequate protection for citizens and journalists in particular, stressing that silence of the authorities indicates the possibility of collusion between government agencies and individuals who carry out these illegal practices.
The human rights foundation "Skyline" concludes its statement by calling on the security authorities to exercise their real role by establishing an impartial investigation committee to find out the repercussions of the recent incidents, and bring the perpetrators to a fair trial. Finally, it stresses that the real role of the security services is to provide security for citizens in a proactive manner that prevents any party from committing any violation or aggression against civilians.