March 2, 2018:

The in the Netherlands based foundation for human rights in the Arab world, Rights Radar (RR), has warned against the repression of freedom of expression and the destruction of journalism in Southern Yemen. That part of the country is under the control of the government, but heavily influenced by United Arab Emirates’ forces.

Rights Radar (RR) noted with great concern the recent deterioration of the situation of the freedom of expression and the attacks on many journalists and media outlets in the provinces of Aden and Hadramout, Southern Yemen.

The province of Aden witnessed this week several attacks on media outlets, including the destruction and threatening of journalists, in addition to the arrest of a prominent journalist in Hadramout.

On March 1, some armed men stormed the headquarters of al-Shumuh House for press and publishing in the Dar Saad neighborhood of Aden province attacking journalists and employees who were present at the headquarters at that time. Said armed men also set fire to the printing equipment of the daily newspaper, Akhbar al-Youm, resulting in the destruction all of its technical assets. Akhbar al-Youm is one of the newspapers published by al-Shumuh House together with the Alshumuh weekly.

The radio tower of Bandar Aden was attacked by unknown gunmen in the Mansoura district of Aden on February 28, which resulted in its destruction and the termination the radio broadcasting service.

Days earlier, the editor-in-chief of Aden al-Ghad newspaper in Aden province, Fathi Ben-Lazraq, received accusations from the security authority in Aden, due to his criticism concerning the current situation in Aden and in the Southern provinces of Yemen.

On February21, the security authorities in Hadramout, arrested the chairman of the Bakathir press corporation, Awadh Keshmim, because of one of his articles, criticizing the weak performance of the local authority, that is under the influence of the Hadramout Elite forces, that are loyal to the UAE. Keshmim also resigned from the presidency of the Bakathir corporation, the largest state-owned press organization in Hadramout, because of the interventions by these forces in his work having a deteriorating effect on his professional performance.

RR received reports from the field saying that the journalist Awadh Keshmim was arbitrarily and extremely cruelly tortured by interrogators at a government intelligence facility in Hadramout.

Aden province has witnessed many cases of repression of freedom of expression, as many of those opposed to the increasing influence of the UAE in South Yemen, were targeted and killed. At least 20 clerics and activists have been assassinated in Aden since the UAE forces started their influence in Aden in July 2015, while the state authorities weakened.

RR considers these series of attacks to be a serious violations of the freedom of expression and a massive destruction of journalism in Yemen, which is facing the worst repressive campaign in the country since the beginning of the war with the Houthi militants in the North in early 2015 and since the starting of the Council of Separatists in the South in May 2017.

RR demanded the Yemeni government to intervene in favour of the immediate release of the detained journalist in Hadramout, Awadh Keshmim, and to take urgent measures to guarantee the freedom of expression and the safety of journalists and media outlets in the provinces under government control.