IFJ Praises Bravery and Resilience of Yemeni Journalist during Presentation Ceremony of Special Award

The IFJ President, Jim

Boumelha, joined journalists in Yemen

today in celebrating the presentation to their colleague Abdul Karim Al

Khaiwani of Amnesty International's Special Award for Human Rights Journalism

under Threat.

In delivering the award

during the 4th congress of the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate in

Sana'a, IFJ President Jim Boumelha praised the bravery and resilience that Al

Khaiwani has shown during his long ordeal. "Abdul Karim is a very special

journalist." He said. "He is one of those rare breeds of journalists, some of

the bravest and the most determined - those who are prepared to sacrifice their

personal and professional lives for the public good and to put their future and

even the future of their families and children at risk in order to ensure that

our profession remains one of the strongest backbones of our democracies."

Al Khaiwani, former editor of

Al Shora newspaper, endured years of harassment during which he has been

arbitrarily detained, beaten, intimated and received death threats for articles

he has published.

According to press reports, he

received in 2004 a one-year term in prison for "insulting the president". After his

release in 2005 following a presidential pardon, he was harassed for several

years before being arrested again in June 2007 and detained for a month then

released on bail. In August 2007 he was abducted by gunmen then reportedly

beaten and threatened with death if he continued to publish articles criticising

the government.

In June 2008, Al Khaiwani was

sentenced to six years in prison for allegedly conspiring with al-Hawthi, a

rebel leader in the Saada region. Evidence consisted of photographs of rebel

forces and notes of an interview with a rebel leader , said his lawyers.

Following an international

outcry, President Ali Abdullah Saleh pardoned him in September but a Special

Criminal Court on Terrorism reimposed the sentence in January.

The Award was made in London on June 16th but Al Khawaini could not receive it in person as he was in prison. In

receiving it on his behalf Boumelha said 

"Abdul Karim is convinced that standing up to bullies

and having to face up torture and imprisonment can make the difference. The IFJ

and the international community of journalists are grateful that Amnesty is

recognising the contribution made by this exceptional journalist."

Several attempts were made to

deliver the award to Al Khaiwani since his release from prison, including one

by the IFJ President which was thwarted after the Yemeni authorities indicated

they would not allow him in the country.

At yesterday's opening

session of the YJS congress, President Saleh, responding to a call made by the

IFJ President, reconfirmed his pardon and announced that the charges would be

dropped and the case closed.

In receiving the award in front

of a rapturous audience of several hundred journalists, Al Khaiwani said "I want to

emphasize here that this award is a recognition which I am proud of, it is also

recognition for Yemeni journalism and Yemeni journalists. I thank Amnesty

International for granting me this award which will support press freedom in Yemen. It also

sends a message to Yemeni journalists that they are not alone in the face of

authoritarianism, corruption and violation of human rights.'

For more

information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207



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