Target: President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi
Goal: Urge Yemeni government to protect journalists from assault and violence
With a new president taking office in Yemen, journalists are being targeted by various groups, some even receiving death threats. President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi has relaxed control on the media, but has done nothing to prosecute those who have gone after journalists.
A 45 page report by Human Rights Watch titled “A Life Threatening Career: Attacks on Journalists Under Yemen’s New Government” details incidents between journalists and their attackers. While the new president has indeed relaxed control over the media, allowing for freedom of expression, violent incidents involving journalists and other media have steadily risen. Before they faced dangers from security forces, but now they face dangers from previous supporters, Huthi rebels, and religious conservatives. With the president not addressing this issue, it’s making the media very afraid of reporting. The president should be protecting those who report on crime, not allowing them to become victims of it.
Cases involving journalists being wounded or killed for their work are not lacking. Wagdy al-Shabi, a 28 year old journalist, was murdered in his home by two civilian-looking men who had military vests and guns. His wife was a witness to the crime, almost becoming a victim herself when the men shot at her. She ran away from her home and hid with her children. No one was arrested for Wagdy al-Shabi’s death. Journalist Hamdi Radman, 33 years old, was beaten by military troops when he took pictures of them, one even firing his gun in warning. Cases such as these that are reported to the Yemeni authorities result in nothing. If an investigation is conducted it is done slowly and with little care for the victims. Other journalists – outlined in the 45 page report – have been prosecuted for defamation, given assassination threats, and been subject to constant harassment.
The president needs to understand how crucial it is to protect his citizens and the rights to freedom of speech. Journalists help keep the government in check; without them the nation would be rife with corruption and violence. Sign the petition below and the demand the president ensure that his citizens are safe.
Dear President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi,
I am writing this letter to implore you to protect your country’s journalists. I realize that since you have taken up the presidency, journalists are free to express their opinions, which was not the case in the past three decades. However, you have not provided these journalists with safeguards. They are being harassed and hunted down by numerous groups, some of which have never targeted journalists before. Now instead of security forces trying to silence them, the silencers are rebels, supporters of the opposing party, and religious conservatives. Whatever the case may be, journalists need to be protected.
I am asking you to conduct a full and impartial investigation towards those responsible for killing, harassing and threatening your nation’s journalists. By doing so, you are telling everyone in your nation that these professions are under your nation’s protection. Your nation is slowly granting the people their rights to freedom of expression, but they cannot express themselves if there are others who are willing to kill them for their opinions or exposing the truth.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Nicholas Ibekwe via Freedoms Phoenix