Houthis holding 41 journalists hostage inside Yemeni TV station
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of 41 journalists who have been held hostage by Houthi rebels inside the headquarters of the Yemen Al Youm TV channel in Sanaa for the past three days. RSF meanwhile holds the Houthis responsible for their safety.
Houthi forces fired on the TV channel’s building with rocket grenades before taking complete control of it on 2 December. According to the sources consultes by RSF, three guards were injured during the attack.
Yemen Al Youm TV is affiliated to the General People’s Congress, the party of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was killed on 4 December.
“We condemn the violent actions towards journalists by the Houthis, which constitute serious violations of the Geneva Conventions," said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk.
“This hostage-taking is typical of the climate of hostility in Yemen towards journalists, who are often targeted in this conflict. We call on the Houthi rebels to immediately release the TV channel's journalists and employees, as well as the 11 other media professionals and workers they are currently holding in their prisons."
The journalists held hostage inside Yemen Al Youm TV are being denied any contact with the outside world and RSF has no information about the conditions in which they are being held.
RSF’s sources say the journalists were forced to surrender the TV channel’s access codes, thereby enabling the Houthis to broadcast their own content, including a speech by their leader, until broadcasting was stopped again.
The websites of other media outlets that support former President Saleh’s rival rebel faction, such as Al Methaq, have been blocked. Al Methaq’s mobile service is also blocked.
The Houthis are now holding the largest number of journalists hostage in Yemen. Yahya Abdelraqib al-Jubaihi, a journalist who was abducted from his home in September 2016, was sentenced to death by a Houthi-controlled court in April 2017 before being released this past September.
At least 12 other journalists and media workers are currently held hostage in Yemen by armed groups, including the Houthis and Al-Qaeda. Yemen is ranked 166th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.