Houthis use Yemeni journalists as hostages, bargaining chips
September Net – Kamal Hasan
Houthi militia is stepping up its violations against journalists in Yemen, in an attempt to stop them from exposing, reporting its brutal atrocities and abuses against civilians.
Practicing a terrorizing policy against them, the rebel militia- under fake charges – referred last week 10 Yemeni journalists to an illegal court used to try terrorists in Sana’a.
The abduced journalists, Abdulkhaleq Ahmad Emran, Akram Saleh Al-Walidi, Al-Hareth Saleh Hameed, Tawfeeq Mohammed Al-Mansouri, Hisham Ahmad Tartoum, Hisham Abdulamalek Al-Yousefi, Haitham Abdulrahman Raweh, Issam Ameen Balgheith, Hassam Abdullah Anab and Salah Mohammed Al-Qaidi, have been detained in the militia prisons under made-up charges for almost four years.
“During the last four years of their illegal detention, those who hold them have broken all international conventions and norms on the treatment of prisoners”, the International Federation of Journalists said in a press release.
“They ( journalists) were subjected to physical and psychological torture, denied health care, family visits and other basic needs,” IFJ added.
IFJ condemned the use of ten Yemeni journalists as hostages and bargaining chips, demanding UN to follow up any investigation into violations of freedom of press and media in Yemen and bring perpetrators to justice.
In a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations General Secretary, António Guterres, and the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, IFJ also urges to “bring their full authority and the powerful array of legal tools at their disposal to demand the immediate and non-negotiable release of them.”
Yemeni Journalist Syndicate has also denounced Houthi persistence on releasing the journalist and fakely charging them.
YJS said the militia hasn’t allowed its members and the lawyers to visit to the abducted journalists despite that they have an order to do that from SC court.
All illegal actions taken against journalist by Houthi militia are hostilities targeting Journalism in our country, said Yusof Hazib,Chairman of National Organization of Yemeni Media professional.
Houthis have been using the kidnapped journalist as political bargain, which is another abuse against journalists and press, Hazib added in statement to September Net.
“Referring journalists for trial is a serious act, the militia have been using juridical banners to veil its crimes. We’ve always warned that the journalists file is a pure humanitarian issue.”
Hazib said they “won’t allow an outlaw and armed group to refer the abducted journalists in its jails to specialize terrorism courts, we are only waiting for their speedy and immediate release.”
He called on the United Nations and all international organizations to pressure Houthi militia to set the journalists free unconditionally.
Last year, IFJ and YJS documented 226 violations cases have been committed against Press and Media in Yemen.
The Yemeni Media Freedom Observatory had also recorded 144 violations of media freedom in Yemen in 2018, including 12 cases of killings.
According to the Observatory, in addition to the 12 cases of murder, there were 43 cases of kidnapping and attempted kidnapping, 11 injury cases, 6 attempted murders, 16 arrests, 10 assaults, 9 dismissals from work, 7 threats, 5 incursions and looting of journalist lodgings, 12 violations against media institutions, and 13 other violations.
The Geneva-based Organization for Rights and Freedoms ( SAM) also condemned Houthi referral of the journalists to a court as a ” dangerous act that confirms Houthi using of judiciary for political gains and to punish its opponents by trying them illegally without any regard to human rights”.
“There has been no freedom for Press and Media in Yemen since the Houthi militia takeover of Sana’a,” Tawfeek Al-Homaidi, SAM Chairman told September Net.
“This group( Houthi militia) has committed all sorts of violations against Yemeni journalists, arbitrary detained them, hunted them, dismissed them from work and trying them, not to mention shutting down all media outlets.”
Homaidi said Houthis’ enforcibly disappearing of journalists and brutally torturing them and trying them reveals that the militia is unwilling to implement the Stockholm Agreement,” that includes a prisoner swap.
The stark and gross violations committed by Houthi militia against Yemeni journalists have been worst ever during entire history of Yemen press, creating hazardous environment for journalists to work in and subjecting them to all types of abuses.
Due to the Houthi militia’s repressive practices against Media and Press, Yemen has ranked 170 among countries where freedom of press is mostly being violated, according to Reporters with Border annually report. Yemen has also been one of the worst states in terms of violations perpetrated against journalists and media people.