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Several journalists attacked while covering protests

(RSF/IFEX) - 4 September 2010 - More than two weeks have gone by without any news of reporter Abdul Ilah Haydar Shae and cartoonist Kamal Sharaf since their arrests in Sanaa on 16 and 17 August, which have been followed by an increase in cases of violence against journalists.

"It is unacceptable that the authorities have said nothing about the fate of these two journalists, who were arrested by the security forces," Reporters Without Borders said. "We urge President Ali Abdallah Saleh to have them released. International law regards holding detainees incommunicado as forced disappearance. We also very disturbed by the surge in violence by the security forces against journalists."

An Al-Qaeda specialist who works for the Saba news agency, Shae was arrested at his home at the end of the daily Ramadan fast on the evening of 16 August. Heavily-armed police in bullet-proof vests surrounded the house, fired warning shots and then stormed inside. Shae was beaten and insulted in front of his family before being taken away in handcuffs. All of his personal documents were seized.

He was previously arrested by three plain-clothes men on 11 July, when he was interrogated for six hours by intelligence officials about statements he had made on Al Jazeera about Al-Qaeda's activities in Yemen.

Sharaf, who works as a reporter for the website Al-Joumhouriya and as a cartoonist for the website Al-Barakish, was arrested on 17 August in Sanaa.

Journalists who were staging a sit-in in solidarity with Shae and Sharaf outside the attorney-general's office on 26 August were attacked by soldiers. Hassan Abd of Al-Hurra TV was beaten when he refused to hand over his camera to the soldiers, who tried to arrest him. Soldiers also manhandled Nawal Kabassi when trying to confiscate her mobile phone, which she was using to take photos.

Various human rights organisations organised a demonstration in support of the two detained journalists outside the president's office on 1 September. The journalists and activists who took part demanded not only their release but also an investigation into the violence used by the security forces at the time of their arrest. During the demonstration, the security forces prevented cameramen working for Al Jazeera and Al-Hurra from filming and threatened to open fire on them. Seven people were briefly detained.

Other cases of violence against journalists:

Ali Hassan, a reporter for the Al-Sahwa website, and two other journalists, Abdel Wassi' Rajih and Samir Nimr, were insulted and attacked by a postal service security guard when they went to cover a protest by postal employees against mismanagement in the service in Hajjah on 31 August. The guard drew his gun and aimed it at the journalists and tried to confiscate their equipment. Hajjah's governor said the incident would be investigated.

Military police attacked Abdel Hafez Mou'jib as he was photographing a police operation outside the offices of a charity in Al-Hudaydah, a province to the southwest of the capital, on 22 August.

Around 25 journalists were arrested by soldiers on 22 August in Harf Sufyan while on their way to cover a peace conference in the northwestern city of Sa'dah at the invitation of local leaders. They were escorted to Jebel Aswad, where they were released on the president's orders a few hours later but were unable to continue to Sa'dah for the conference.

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