Five years of violations in eastern Yemen’s Hadramout province

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) deplores the many press freedom violations in the Yemeni province of Hadramout under Farag Al-Bahsani, who has just ended a five-year stint as its governor, and calls on his successor to ensure that journalists are protected.

Of the Yemeni regions controlled by the internationally-recognised government, Hadramout province is the one that has seen the most press freedom violations,” RSF’s Middle East desk said. “We urge the newly appointed governor, Mabkhout bin Madi, to reverse this trend and to show that authorities recognised by the international community intend to respect the media and protect journalists.”

Bin Madi is a former parliamentarian, unlike his predecessor, Al-Bahsani, a career army officer who had governed this eastern province since 2017. At least four journalists were imprisoned under Al-Bahsani, while others were briefly detained, prosecuted and subjected to other forms of pressure.

The latest victim was Hala Badawi, a freelance journalist who was detained from December 2021 to April 2022. She was accused of “involvement in a terrorist cell” after sharing a Facebook post about allegations of corruption being levelled against the director of the education ministry bureau in Hadramout.

More than one source said it was on the governor’s orders that freelance photographer Abdullah Bukeir was detained without charge from May 2020 to April 2021. He was jailed after sharing a photo taken during a press conference on Facebook. Showing a box of tissues personalised with the governor’s portrait, it elicited many gibes on social media. Bukeir went on hunger strike in protest against his detention and had to be hospitalised several times.

Al-Moharir news website editor Sabri bin Makhashin (who is now based in Egypt) was jailed in December 2018 by the province’s military intelligence service, which took its orders from the governor. Awad Kashmim, the editor of the newspaper 30 November, was held for a month after being arrested in February 2018, and was dismissed at the governor’s behest after criticising a military operation carried out in the region.

 

Journalists were targeted even after fleeing the province. Three journalists who had left Hadramout – Mohamed Al-Sharfi, Mohamed Al-Yazidi and Bin Makhashin – were threatened in September 2021 by a military officer in connection with their posts about corruption in Hadramout. They held the governor fully responsible for the threats.

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