June 13, 2014 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Government closes two news media, police attack journalists

Two news media owned by former President Ali Abdallah Saleh that have a reputation for tendentious news reporting – Al-Yemen Al-Youm TV and the Al-Yemen Al-Youm newspaper – were raided and closed on 11 June by members of the presidential guard. Sultan Al-Barakani, the deputy general-secretary of the ruling General People’s Congress told Agence France-Presse that "President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi took the decision to close them with the cabinet’s approval. The GPC is also the former former president’s party." “Presidential Guard forces closed the headquarters of the TV station and the newspaper and seized their equipment,” Barakani added. The government newspaper Al-Thawra (The Revolution) said: “Al-Yemen Al-Youm incited hatred and violence and jeopardized social peace, thereby constituting a threat to the state’s security and stability.” It added: “The communication ministry never issued a licence to Al-Yemen Al-Youm TV and the station’s management never bothered to request once. And they continued to behave in the same way after the former president’s removal.” The closures come at a time of mounting social tension resulting from water and electricity outages and fuel shortages that have been paralyzing Sanaa and prompting repeated demonstrations in recent days. About 1,000 people took part in the latest demonstration on 11 June. President Hadi announced a cabinet reshuffle the same day. “We urge the authorities to immediately and unconditionally end the arbitrary closure of these media,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Media may not, under any circumstances, be closed as a result of just a political decision. At the same time, media and journalists must demonstrate independence and professionalism, play a watchdog role and avoid fuelling political tension and disputes.” RWB added: “We are also very worried about police violence against journalists, especially when they are covering demonstrations. We point out that the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on 28 March recognizing the importance of the role that journalists play by covering protests. The authorities are responsible for guaranteeing journalists’ safety.” For no apparent reason, members of the security forces attacked Sky News correspondent Mohamed Al-Kadhi, smashing his equipment, while he was doing a report on the month of Ramada on 12 June. Riot police used teargas and live rounds to disperse journalists who were demonstrating outside the “14 October” printing press in Aden in 7 June in protest against the manager’s alleged corruption. The police also targeted journalists who were there just to cover the protest. According to Marwan Al-Janzir, the head of the Aden branch of the Journalists’ Union, and Workers’ Union general secretary Nawfel Rajah, 15 journalists and 20 employees of the printing press were beaten and threatened at gunpoint by riot police before being forced to leave. One journalist, Hani Al-Mohtadi, was detained for an hour. Police threatened and attacked TV cameramen who were in the Aser district of the capital on 4 June to cover a demonstration demanding an end it the war in Amran, the governorate to the north of Sanaa governorate. Al-Jazeera Musbasher’s Mansour Allaw, Sky News Arabia’s Mohamed Sallama and Al-Arabiya’s Abdullah Al-Sofi were all beaten by police and forbidden to cover the demonstration.