27 May 2005
Two journalists face harassment following publication of critical editorial
(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:
World Journalists Back Leading Trade Union Activist Under Attack in Yemen
The International Federation of Journalists today expressed its solidarity with Hafez Al-Bukari, Secretary General of the Yemen Journalists Syndicate (YJS), and his wife Rahma Hujaira, Chairperson of the Yemen Female Media Forum, following the publication of an article in a newspaper called Al-Bilad, which makes "unfounded, untrue and shocking" allegations against the two journalists.
The attack sparked a spontaneous demonstration by journalists who denounced the "dirty, baseless and evil accusations" directed by the paper against the journalists. The publication of the article followed an editorial by Rahma Hujaira published in Al-Thawri newspaper, which made a hard-hitting critique of the ruling party in its handling of recent elections.
"This insidious and personal attack against prominent journalists and active defenders of civil liberties is extremely worrying," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "It comes from a newspaper which has suddenly been launched with official support only days after colleagues criticised the authorities and therefore is politically compromised."
Yemeni journalists, from the YJS, underlined in a press release that the editor-in-chief of the newspaper was granted a license by the Ministry of Information and therefore is not recognised as a journalist and is not a member of the syndicate. Mahboob Ali, chairman of the syndicate, blamed the ministry for giving licenses to non-syndicate members and to those who are not journalists. Local journalists demanded the suspension of the newspaper and also criticized the authorities.
"It is of major importance that journalists stand in solidarity and firmly condemn such insidious harassment against colleagues," said White. "The strong reactions by our colleagues demonstrate the need to organise a reliable and professional response to the violation of journalism deontology in Yemen through a mechanism of self-regulation."
The IFJ is calling on the authorities to respect freedom of expression and to ensure a constructive environment for the development of quality journalism in Yemen. Hafez Al-Bukari is also the IFJ Coordinator on a project aiming to strengthen the capacities of the Syndicate and which aims to improve the working conditions of journalists in the country.
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries.