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Free expression activists assaulted during protests

A demonstration demanding freedom of expression in Yemen, organised by the NGO Women Journalists without Chains, was brutally dismantled by police on 6 October, reports Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Police destroyed video cameras and several protestors were injured at the rally in the capital Sana'a, says RSF. Regular protests have taken place since April in Freedom Square in Sana'a and hundreds have come out in defence of democratic free speech.

"The authorities have today revealed their true face," said Tawakkol Karman, the head of Women Journalists without Chains. "Each week, hundreds of citizens, journalists and intellectuals have been gathering to defend free expression, talking about the subjects that are dear to them."

Women Journalists without Chains is asking for more information about abducted journalist Muhammad Al Maqalih, and the release of journalists Fouad Rashed, editor of the Al Mukallah Press website, and Salah Al Saqladi, editor of Gulf of Aden news agency. They also call for the reopening of the independent newspaper "Al Ayyam".

"We are approaching the end of an independent press in Yemen," said RSF. "The government's determination to ban these weekly sit-ins is the final stage in a persecution of journalists aimed at imposing a media blackout on what is happening in the country."

Earlier this month, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) launched its ethical journalism campaign with a backdrop of calls to release detained journalists.

IFJ's campaign to shed more light on detained journalists was organised jointly with the Yemeni Journalist Syndicate (YJS), an IFJ affiliate. It was attended by families and supporters of imprisoned journalists. The launch also brought attention to journalist-in-training, Iyad Ghanim, who was sentenced to an 18-month jail term for filming a demonstration in early July in the southern Yemeni city of Kersh, reports IFJ.

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