Houthis condemned for failing to protect journalists

Special Houthis condemned for failing to protect journalists
A Houthi fighter secures a rally in Sanaa, Yemen. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 04 November 2020

Houthis condemned for failing to protect journalists

Houthis condemned for failing to protect journalists
  • Yemen’s Journalists Syndicate demand investigation of death threat against journalist

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s Journalists Syndicate has condemned a death threat made against a veteran journalist based in Houthi-held Sanaa, calling upon the Iran-backed group to protect him and to find those behind the threat. 

The syndicate said the threat against Abdul Bari Taher must be investigated. 

“The Houthi group, the de facto authority in Sanaa, holds full responsibility for these actions, and should protect him, investigate this crime and punish the perpetrators.” Taher was targeted because of his “brave stands and opinions,” the syndicate added.

Taher, who was born in the western province of Hodeidah in 1941, was a founding member of the syndicate in the 1970s and has been in charge of several government and private newspapers during the last five decades. 

He is currently a columnist for local and regional newspapers. In Oct. 2018, the Houthis briefly held him along with 19 other journalists for participating in an “unauthorized” event in Sanaa.

Yemeni politicians and activists demanded the Houthis quickly identify the people who threatened to kill Taher and also those who have killed several popular politicians in Sanaa in the last five years. 

“Whoever threatens Abdul Bari Taher is in fact threatening every free Yemeni who does not belong to the Houthi group,” Mustapha Noman, a former minister and diplomat, tweeted.

Hundreds of Yemeni journalists, activists and opposition figures have been forced to flee to government-controlled areas or seek exile due to the group’s harsh crackdown in the last six years. 

The group has put them on trial in absentia, confiscated their houses and froze their bank accounts even after they had left. 

Outspoken journalists and writers who remain in Sanaa are harassed by the Houthis. 

In April the Houthis abducted Khaled Al-Ruwaishan, a former Yemeni culture minister and an outspoken writer, who criticized the group’s handling of flash floods that hit Sanaa and other areas in northern Yemen. 

That same month a Houthi-run court sentenced four journalists to death after convicting them of contacting the group’s enemies. The four journalists were among a group of 10 journalists who were abducted from a hotel in Sanaa in 2015.

In a report issued on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists — Nov. 2 — the syndicate said that 44 Yemeni journalists had been killed and hundreds of others had been detained since 2010.

Yemen’s Information Minister Muammar Al-Aryani urged international rights groups to pressure the Houthis to cease their harassment of journalists and free those being held in their prisons. 

“We remember with deep pain our fellow journalists in Houthi prisons, who were sentenced to death for their political opinions. The Houthis refused to release in (the latest) prisoner swap deal (so) as to exploit their and their families’ suffering for political pressure and blackmail,” the minister tweeted on Tuesday.