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IFJ to Houthi leader: You are responsible for the safety of Yemeni journalists

A youth dressed in military uniform holds up a poster of the Houthi movement's leader Abdel-Malek Badruddin al-Houthi
A youth dressed in military uniform holds up a poster of the Houthi movement's leader Abdel-Malek Badruddin al-Houthi

REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

This statement was originally published on ifj.org on 29 September 2015.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today wrote to the leader of Ansar Allah Movement, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, warning him of his personal responsibility for the safety of Yemeni journalists, following a recent video message in which he described journalists as “traitors” and said that “something should be done to face them.”

The letter urged him to issue clear orders to his forces not to attack journalists , saying that violence on media professionals is a breach of international humanitarian and human rights law.

The IFJ also sent a copy of the letter to the Special Representative of the United Nations (UN) Secretary General for Yemen, Mr. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, requesting him to bring the full array of legal tools at their disposal to help addressing the serious risks of Yemeni journalists and media professionals, all of whom face direct violence following the video.

“We consider this statement as a direct incitement to Ansar Allah movement's followers to kill critical reporters in Yemen and we therefore demand al-Houthi to give clear orders not to target journalists,” said IFJ President, Jim Boumelha, in the letter.

The video message was the latest incident in an increasing escalation of violence which has had a devastating impact on media in Yemen since the beginning of the year. Last week, the Yemeni Journalists' Syndicate (YJS), an IFJ affiliate, reported information about nine Yemeni journalists, who were kidnapped by the Houthis last June and jailed since without charges, who are being subjected to torture in the so-called ' revolution prisons.' The YJS had published earlier a half year report which recorded around 200 cases of media freedoms' violation cases in Yemen since the beginning of 2015.

The IFJ sent the letter to the Houthi rebels' leader as part of the campaign End Oppression and Incitement against Yemen Journalists that IFJ is launching on Yemen to raise awareness worldwide about the drastic situation of journalists in the country. The focus will be on securing the immediate release of the kidnapped and tortured journalists and urging the United Nations to hold the authorities in Yemen accountable for the safety of journalists working in the country, in line with the Security Council Resolutions 1738 (2006) and 2222 (2015).

The IFJ is also mobilising an international support network amongst its affiliates and beyond for Yemeni journalists and their families. To this end, IFJ is organising an international solidarity meeting on 26 October in Brussels, together with other international and media organisations, in order to both send a strong political message of support to Yemeni colleagues and to explore coordination and strategies for providing assistance.

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