Yemeni Media Union statement on World Press Freedom Day

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Al-Thawra Net

The Saudi-led aggression war continues against Yemen, the blockade is worsening and the crimes and abuses committed by the Saudi-led coalition against Yemeni media and media outlets are escalating. It [the coalition] has been reassured that its crimes, no matter how terrible they may be, will not move the international accounting and accountability bodies as usual for similar war crimes.

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, four years after the so-called “Decisive Storm” invasion was declared, [we declare that] the Saudi-led coalition has committed dozens of crimes against journalists and media professionals in Yemen, in which 239 journalists and media workers have been killed, and 21 others have been injured.

The coalition has launched air strikes on 30 radio and television broadcasting stations, and about 21 facilities and information institutions were totally and partially destroyed.

The coalition’s violations have not stopped there. It has blocked and jamming the Yemeni media, and prevented the international press from visiting Yemen, which came in the framework of disinformation and blackout regarding its horrific crimes committed against civilians and innocent people in Yemen.

In fact, the military intervention has caused the world’s largest humanitarian catastrophe, according to reports by the United Nations and humanitarian organizations operating in Yemen.

In figures, the Yemeni Media Union has monitored 6 cases of cloning of satellite channels and websites. A total of eight stop broadcasts on NILESAT satellites, as well as 7 other cases of blocking and jamming of these channels.

According to information from the Ministry of Information, the Coalition has over the past period banned 143 international journalists, who have been deployed d by several media outlets, to enter Yemen.
The travel ban and the closure of the Sana’a International Airport by the Saudi-led coalition have prevented dozens of journalists from travelling to and from Yemen, as part of reducing the impact of the national and humanitarian media message on international public opinion.

The coalition’s tools were able to stop scores of accounts on social networking sites Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others, claiming that these account holders were “not complying with professional standards.”

In addition, thousands of Yemeni journalists and media workers are living in a tense economic situation, and the systematic economic war has halted the imbursement of salaries to government employees for the past three years. The aftermath of the crisis has led to the closure of dozens of newspapers and media institutions and the release of hundreds of Workers, the majority of them displaced, and many of them go abroad.

These documented crimes and violations confirm that the Saudi-led coalition does not care about the customary rules of war, and does not take into account international humanitarian law and the International Convention on the Safety and Independence of Journalists and Media Professionals, which criminalizes the targeting of journalists and the means of information, and treats it as civilian objects that are inviolable in war and peace.

Regrettably, these consecutive crimes have not been deterred by international deterrence in terms of their size and ugliness. Many of the United Nations’ stances concerned with human rights and freedom of opinion and expression still inferior to the required level.

The Yemeni media union, while reiterating its condemnation of these violations, calls on the professional fellows to celebrate the day to work together towards the accountability of the perpetrators of these crimes.

In order to prevent such violations from going unpunished, the Union demands the following:

1. The establishment of an independent international commission of inquiry to consider the crimes committed by the Coalition against the Yemeni media and to refer the perpetrators to the International Criminal Court.

2. The inclusion of all governmental and private media sites within the United Nations protected areas.

3. Intervention with the Coalition to demand the lifting of the air embargo on Sana’a airport, and allow the free travel of Yemeni and international journalists, and to provide them protection.

4. To direct the UN humanitarian assistance in order to help payment of salaries of the employees of the government apparatus, including those affiliated with the official media sector, urging the various Yemeni parties not to politicize the humanitarian file of salaries, but to deal with it and prevent procrastination.

5. To urge the National salvation Government in Sana’a to release journalists and prisoners of conscience who have been found not guilty of criminal offences.

Issued by the Union Executive Office- Sana’a – May 3, 2019