Cairo, 11 September 2006
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRinfo) condemned today the blocking of some independent websites and the harassment of some journalists by the Yemeni government just before holding presidential elections on 20 September this year.
Yemeni authorities blocked Yemeni Council Website (http://www.al-yemen.org) and Yemen Sound Website (www.yemen-sound.com). The two websites are independent and enjoy a high visitors rate as they allow for a huge space for debate, especially amongst Yemeni youth. The Yemeni Council Website was blocked in the beginnings of last August while the Yemen Sound website was blocked in the beginnings of September. The two websites have criticized the Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has nominated himself amongst five nominees to run for presidency.
Moreover, on 7 September the press and publications prosecutor summoned, Chief Editor of the independent Al-Asema (The Capital) newspaper, Khaled Al-Alwany, for questioning without any explanation or accusations being directed against him. The newspaper is known to be close to the Yemeni Reform Assembly Part.
Samia Al-Aghbary, a Yemeni journalist and an HRinfo volunteer said that they were surprised to find that several websites that cover presidential elections news in an unsatisfactory manner for Yemeni authorities have been blocked. She added that the summoning of Khaled Al-Alwany came to increase tension and reflect the authorities’ bias during the elections process.
It is worth mentioning that the Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, had announced last year that he would not nominate himself for another term. Two months ago he took back his word and ran for elections. Saleh has ruled for 27 years. If he wins the coming elections he will serve another 7 years thus remaining in power for35 years.
HRinfo condemns the blocking of the websites and the violation of the right to exchange information. It condemns any procedure taken to restrict press freedom. HRinfo demands the Yemeni authorities to immediately lift the block on the websites and restrain from harassing journalists.