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Yemen radio station chief killed amidst continuing crisis

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 7 May 2015.

Reporters Without Borders is saddened to learn of the death of Abdelkarim Nasser Ali Muthanna, the director-general of regional Marib Radio, amid continuing threats to journalists and news media from the violence and chaos reigning Yemen.

Muthanna was killed on 22 April in Sirwah, in the eastern province of Marib, where Houthi rebels have been clashing with Sunni tribesmen for the past few weeks. According to the International Federation of Journalists, he had gone there to cover the fighting.

Reporters Without Borders has repeatedly voiced deep concern about the worsening crisis in Yemen and its impact on the civilian population and journalists.

“There have been many acts of violence against journalists in Yemen since Houthi rebels seized control of Sanaa last year,” Reporters Without Borders deputy programme director Virginia Dangles said. “We reiterate our appeal to the authorities and all parties to the conflict to allow journalists to do their job. Every effort must be made to guarantee their safety.”

Aged 43, Muthanna began his career as a journalist in 2004 when he went to work for a Yemeni satellite TV station. After being appointed Marib Radio director in 2009, he became its director-general in 2011.

Journalists and media targeted

Reporters Without Borders has registered many cases of media personnel being the victims of threats, attacks or abduction in recent months in Yemen. It is becoming harder and harder for journalists to operate and cover events in the country.

Mohamed Aida, a cameraman working for US-based AlHurra TV, was abducted by Houthi rebels in Sanaa on 29 April. According to our sources, he was kidnapped at the home of a Yemeni citizen while doing a report on the humanitarian situation and power outages in the capital.

Al-Yemen Al-Youm TV presenter Mohamed Rajah Chamsan was killed during an air strike on a missile base controlled by Houthi rebels on 20 April. Three other employees of the TV station were killed in the same air strike. Al-Yemen Al-Youm TV supports former President Saleh, who is backing the rebels.

News media are also often targeted, especially by Houthi rebels. On the evening of 25 April, Houthi rebels stormed the Sanaa headquarters of Belqees TV and ransacked equipment.

Yemen is ranked 168th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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