Cairo, May 23, 2009
On the occasion of the 19th anniversary of the Yemen Unity Day, Egyptian human rights organizations urged Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to order the Ministry of Information to stop the siege imposed on Yemeni newspapers and remove the ban on Yemeni blocked websites.
It is to be noted that because of the coverage carried out by a number of newspapers on the treatment of the government forces with the demonstrators in the south; the Yemeni Minister of Information issued a decision to ban publication of several independent newspapers (al-Ayam- al-Share’e – al-Watani – al-Mustaqela – al-Diyar – al-Nida’a – al-Masdar), on the grounds of publishing information “prejudicial to national unity”, in this context, the Yemeni authorities banned (Change Net) news website on May 18, 2009.
The Yemeni government, in conjunction with the issuance of this arbitrary decision, has inaugurated a special court for media, which raises concern about the possibility of the government to impose further restrictions on press freedom and ban more newspapers; in the light of the recent decisions, the signatory organizations are afraid of using this court to continue repressive practices towards press freedom and contrary to all international conventions that guarantee freedom of expression.
Noting with alarm the drastic impact of confiscating newspapers and Yemeni news websites, under the social and security conditions prevailing in the country, the signatory organizations confirm that restricting freedom of expression and information and shackling the ability of journalists to gain access to areas of conflict, are not the appropriate methods to overcome the crises.
Expressing their full solidarity with the rights of Yemeni journalists to exercise their profession in an environment that protects the right of expression; signatory organization call on the Yemeni President to abolish the restrictions issued by the Ministry of Information and to urge it to give priority to international standards of press freedom, and to breathe new life into journalism in Yemen.
Signatories on this statement:
1. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
2. Egyptian Child’s Rights Centre
3. The Association for Human Rights and Legal Aid
4. The Civil Observatory Society for Human Rights
5. The association of freedom of thought and expression
6. The Awn Society for Human Rights
7. The Egyptian Center for Development and Human Rights
8. Hemaia Center for Protecting Human Rights Defenders
9. Journalists Without Rights
10. Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies
11. The Arab Organization for Supporting the Civil Society and Human Rights
12. The Dialogue Society for Development and Human Rights
13. Hoquqi Association for the Rights of the Disabled
14. The National Center for Human Rights
15. The Women’s Group for Human Rights
16. Carmel Association for Digital Media
17. Unity Center for Development and Human Rights
18. Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence
19. The Egyptian Center for Human Rights
20. Habi Centre for Environmental Rights
21. The Arab Program for Human Rights Activists
22. Shomoo for Human Rights.