Reporters Without Borders is appalled to learn that Jamal Al-Sharaabi, a photographer working for the local daily Al-Masdar, was one of the fatal victims when government security forces opened fire today on a peaceful demonstration in Change Square, outside Sanaa university, killing at least 30 people.
“We are dismayed by Sharabi’s death during the brutal repression of anti-government demonstrations in Yemen today,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Our thoughts go out to his family and the staff of Al-Masdar. It is shocking that this photographer paid with his life for trying to keep his fellow-citizens informed.”
Aged 35 and the father of four children, Sharaabi is the fourth journalist to be killed in the course of the wave of protests that have been rocking the Arab world since last December.
Reporters Without Borders records that the authorities continue to respond with violence to protests movement in Bahrain, Yemen and, now, the Palestinian Territories. In Saudi Arabia, the authorities are targeting foreign journalists in an attempt to prevent the circulation of images of the streets protests in the east of the country. Reporters Without Borders condemns these attempts to censor and intimidate.
On 17 March, pro-government thugs snatched an Al-Jazeera crew’s camera as the station’s correspondent, Hamdi Al-Bakari, was covering violence against demonstrators in the province of Taiz. Journalist, writer and activist Bushra Al-Maqtari was injured when security agents tried to disperse a sit-in in Freedom Square in the city of Taiz. Mareb Press reporter Mohammed Al-Hozayfi was also injured when anti-riot police threw stones and used teargas to disperse the protesters.
Adel Abdel Mughni, a reporter for the UAE weekly Al-Shorouq, was attacked by government supporters on a Sanaa street on 16 March after covering the sit-in in the capital’s Change Square.
Bassem Al-Janabi of the Al-Masdar Online news website was covering a sit-in to demand President Saleh’s departure in Hodeidah province when government security agents and ruling party thugs armed attacked the demonstrators using knives and teargas. Janabi lost consciousness.
The authorities continue to obstruct the distribution of certain newspapers. Copies of the Thursday and Friday issues of Akhbar Al-Yom were seized at Sanaa airport to prevent their being sent to Aden, Al-Daleh, Lahej and Abyan. On 15 March, the authorities prevented distribution of the latest issue of the Aden-based newspaper Al-Oumana in the capital. The issue contained coverage of student demonstrations.
With military contingents now being sent from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to help contain the political agitation, men armed with clubs and knives stormed the printing press of Al-Wasat, Bahrain’s only independent daily, on 15 March and smashed equipment, thereby preventing the newspaper from publishing.
Editor Mansour al-Jamri said employees had been threatened because of Al-Wasat’s coverage of the political unrest. Printing press manager Ahmed Mahdi said police had been escorting his employees to and from their work during the three days prior to the attack because of threats from people gathered outside. The newspaper Al-Ayam agreed to print Al-Wasat’s latest issue.
Mohammed Jamjoom, a CNN correspondent based in Abu Dhabi, was deported on 16 March for unclear reasons. An information ministry official escorted him to the airport but the authorities provided no explanation for his expulsion. Wall Street Journal reporter Alex Delmar-Morgan was arrested by members of the National Guard as he walked towards Pearl Square on 16 March and was held for three hours. Al-Wasat photographer Mohammed al-Mukharaq was attacked by a score of plain-clothes security agents while taking photos of protesters on 13 March. His sustained a fracture to his left hand and his camera and mobile phone were broken.
Tension between Bahrain’s Shiite and Sunni communities is mounting and there have been calls on the Internet for the closure of the bureau of the Iranian Shiite TV station Alalam and the arrest of its correspondent, Ali Al-Mousawi.
Members of the Hamas security forces attacked journalists on 15 March in the course of dispersing several hundred people who had gathered in Katiba Square in Gaza City in response to a call on Facebook by the 15 March Coalition, which is campaigning for an end to the political divisions in the Palestinian Territories.
After blocking all streets leading into the square at around 6 p.m., the security forces moved in and ordered the demonstrators to leave. When some resisted, the police destroyed their tents, beginning with the tent put up by the Union of Journalists, and attacked around 20 reporters and photographers, seizing many cameras and memory cards.
Asma Al-Ghoul, the correspondent of the SKeyes Centre for Media and Cultural Freedom, was badly beaten and was held for five hours. Her colleague, Samah Ahmed was stabbed in the back and had to be taken to Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital for treatment. Akram Atallah, who writes for the West Bank daily Al-Ayyam, was so badly beaten that his left arm was broken.
Yesterday, Hamas security forces prevented four journalists – Xinhua photographer Khader Abu Kuik, Al-Jazeera cameraman Ismail Al-Zanoun, AFP photographer Mohamed Al-Baba and freelancer Sam Yassin – from covering a demonstration outside a United Nations office in Gaza. Their cameras were seized and the memory cards were removed.
The Saudi authorities withdrew the accreditation of Reuters correspondent Ulf Laessing on 15 March, accusing him of filing an inaccurate report about a recent demonstration. Reuters issued a statement saying Laessing, who has been based in Riyadh since 2009, would leave the country within the week.
A woman journalist working for the BBC and a Spanish photographer were arrested and held for about three hours on 4 March for planning to cover a demonstration in the eastern city of Hofuf. The BBC reporter told Reporters Without Borders she had entered the country the previous day on a press visa and had been personally assured by the information minister that she would be free to work throughout the country.
For no clear reason, the Saudi daily Al-Watan, one of the kingdom’s most important newspapers, has stopped publishing anything by Amal Zahid and Amira Kashgari, two women journalists whose articles were widely read.