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Abdullah al-Hababi

Yemeni journalists fight for survival amid devastating war

Journalists have been struggling for survival in war-torn Yemen [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 6 October, 2015

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Feature: Journalists are being targeted, threatened, and banned from work in war-torn Yemen, with hundreds of violations documented
Journalists in Yemen have been struggling for survival amid the killings, arrests, and displacement caused by the ongoing war between Houthi militias and their allies on one hand and forces loyal to Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the Saudi-led Arab coalition on the other.

"Journalists are witnessing a transitional phase heading quickly towards a crisis, which threatens their mental well-being and professionalism," writer and Culture Minister Arwa Abdu Othman told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

According to Othman, during the three "transitional years" before the Houthi coup, the number of daily newspapers increased to 10, along with 30 weekly newspapers and dozens of news websites, compared with only three dailies and eight weeklies during the 25 years preceding the political transition.

In addition, most TV and radio stations opposing the Houthi takeover have either shut down or been shut down, paving the way for pro-Houthi media outlets.

Journalists and photographers have also been facing difficulties while travelling, as their job titles on their ID cards would not allow them to pass through checkpoints.

In July, Women Journalists Without Chains, a Yemeni organisation that aims to protect the rights and freedoms of journalists in Yemen, documented 210 violations against journalists - including eight killings - in the first half of 2015.
     Some journalists had to work with aliases and without picture IDs, while militias continue to target others working on the front lines

Some journalists had to work with aliases and without picture IDs, while militias continue to target others working on the front lines.

The main challenges facing Yemeni journalists are family income, threats and targeting by militias - and being banned from covering the war and its daily developments.

Journalist Abdullah al-Thalaya says that, despite choosing to work with an alias in response to family requests after Houthis took over his hometown of Omran last year, his family still warns him against militias storming their home and kidnapping a family member due to his Facebook posts.

Other journalists who became displaced after Houthis took over their towns are unable to do their job, settling for writing from other cities such as Taiz and Maarib, under the protection of popular resistance and the national army.

Houthi militias have even reportedly been inciting against journalists by convincing imams to denounce them in mosques, describing journalists as "fighters allied with the Arab coalition forces".

The hundreds of violations committed by the Houthis against the freedom of the press over the past eight months go some way to show the sheer scale of challenges facing members of the press in Yemen, amid what are harsh human rights conditions for everyone here.

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