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Syrian singer receives violent warning against performing concert; harassment and blockage of website continues

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is an ARTICLE 19 press release:

Yemen: A Dangerous Week for Free Expression

ARTICLE 19 is deeply concerned by the recent attacks against freedom of the media in Yemen. In the past month, two website domains have been blocked and the office car of the blocked website has been smashed. ARTICLE 19 is also deeply worried by the death threats against famous artist Asala Nasri.

On January 19, the Yemeni authorities blocked the original domain of the website the Yemen Portal. A few weeks later, on February 9, the authorities blocked the alternative domain.

On Sunday February 10, three unidentified men attacked and shattered the front glass of a vehicle operated by YemenPortal.net's office in Sana'a, Yemen. The attack may have occurred in retaliation to the nation-wide campaign against web censorship initiated by YemenPortal.net, which made the content of banned sites available through an alternative website.

The wave of website bans is not new in Yemen. The Ministry of Telecommunications is known to screen and ban websites before or during particularly sensitive political or security events such as the presidential election in November 2006 and the ongoing conflict in Sa'ada Province.

"ARTICLE 19 calls on the Yemeni authorities to reverse the website's ban and to investigate the attack on the media outlet's vehicle. Web censorship violates Yemen's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the country acceded in 1987", said Dr. Callamard, ARTICLE 19's Executive Director.

On a different front, a threat, allegedly from Al-Qaeda, was issued on Monday February 11, warning Syrian singer Asala Nasri against performing in a Valentine Day's concert scheduled in the port city of Aden situated in the south of Yemen. The statement calls upon the "sons of Yemen" to oppose the concert at all cost. The statement warns the singer against "gambling" and threatens her with the same fate that faced Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

ARTICLE 19 calls upon the government to investigate promptly the threat against Mrs. Nasri and take all necessary measures to ensure her full protection and performance in all safety.

ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works globally to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech.

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