Yemeni journalist dies just days after release by Houthis

Deploring Yemeni journalist Anwar al Rakan’s death as a result of mistreatment while held for about a year by Yemen’s Houthis, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges all of Yemen’s belligerents to stop trying to restrict news coverage and to free all imprisoned journalists.

Anwar al Rakan died on 2 June just days after being released in an already terminally-ill condition from a Houthi prison. His family did not know he was being held by the Houthis (officially known as Ansar Allah), so no one had been campaigning for his release.

The Houthis continue to hold at least ten journalists and one citizen-journalist captive. But they could be holding many more because they provide no information about any of their activities including, as in Rakan’s case, who they have detained and where they are holding them.

The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate quoted Rakan’s family as saying he was ravaged by starvation, torture and disease when released. Photos of his emaciated body have circulated on social networks.

“There is no justification for arbitrarily detaining and torturing journalists,” said Sophie Anmuth, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “The Houthis allowed Anwar al Rakan to become fatally ill in detention without providing him with the medical attention he needed and without alerting his family in time. The journalists they are holding, some since 2015, must be freed at once.”

Anmuth added: “All of the parties to the war in Yemen, whether the Houthis, Al Qaeda or the Arab coalition, must stop intimidating, torturing or abducting the journalists they dislike.”

Rakan’s brother told the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate that it turned out he was arrested by Houthi militiamen in Al-Houban province about a year ago after setting off from the Houthi-controlled capital, Sanaa, for his home province. It seems that the press cards found on him were the reason he was arrested.

Currently experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises in its history, Yemen is ranked 167th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

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Updated on 28.06.2018