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IFJ warns official media management over plans to sack journalists

(IFJ/IFEX) - 22 June 2011 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today joined its affiliated organisation in Yemen, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS), in warning the management of Yemeni State Television that massive sackings of journalists who defied orders to censor reporting on recent anti-government protests will not go unchallenged.

The warning follows the revelation of a memo sent by the Yemeni Television board to the managing director, Abdallah El Harazi, including a list of some 30 journalists who should be fired on the grounds that they allegedly supported the uprising.

"The Yemeni Television management is trying to make our colleagues scapegoats because they refused to compromise their professional ethics," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "We stand by their side and support our affiliate's defence of journalists' freedom from undue interference from politicians of all sides."

According to the JYS, the Yemeni TV board instructed the director to take disciplinary measures, including dismissals, against media personnel suspected of supporting the protests. The memo also called for denying these employees access to the television premises as well as withholding their wages and benefits entitlements.

The JYS has condemned the action against journalists at Yemeni Television and other official media, vowing to protect their rights and interests.

The news of the campaign against journalists working for state controlled media coincides with reports of a vigilante group in Yemen which has threatened attacks on media that do not support Yemeni President Saleh.

The so-called "Revenge Brigades to protect Yemen and President Saleh" warned that they will assassinate President Saleh's opponents and attack newspapers, online website and media connected to members of the political coalition in Yemen, the Al Liqa al Mushtarak.

The group claimed the responsibility for breaking into the weekly "Al Adwa al Mustaqilah" newspaper and beating its staff last Tuesday. It said this was a warning from the "Brigades" to all newspapers and websites supporting the revolution and threatened to assassinate and bomb all opposition newspapers and reporters of foreign Television stations.

"We condemn these vigilante attacks on media and hold Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi and his government responsible for the safety of journalists in Yemen," added Beth Costa, IFJ General Secretary. "They have to shoulder their responsibility, reign in and disband these violent groups."

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