Call to act against torture and free Yemeni journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has welcomed the release of two kidnapped Yemeni journalists – and backed calls for all those still held captive to be freed immediately.

Amir Baaweidan was the second journalist kidnapped by Al Qaida to be freed in the past few days following a security operation in the Hadramout region yesterday. His colleague Abdullah Alsily was released last week.

The Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate (YJS) urged the release of – Mohammed Mokri – who remains in captivity following his kidnapping by Al Qaida in Hadramout and 14 journalists detained for over a year by the Houthis in Sanaa, amid claims of physical and psychological torture.

The IFJ, alongside the YJS had earlier called on Ismail Ould Cheikh, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s representative in the country, to act against the torture and growing number of attacks on journalists in the country.

The union has now urged the UN to raise the attacks on journalists in Yemen and end the suffering of the abducted journalists in prisons and detention centers.

“We ask you again to include the press and journalists in Yemen in the negotiations and put pressure for the release of kidnapped journalists ... and to put pressure on armed groups in order not to expose reporters who are only reporting the events.

“The IFJ and YJS call on the United Nations, represented by you in order to seek an immediate release of the kidnaped journalists and bring them back to their families. Knowing that some of them are subject to brutal torture ... while their families live difficult moments as a result of the abduction of their children.”

The families of the kidnapped journalists also demanded action by the UN.

In an open letter they said: “Our sons - Abdul Khaliq Omran, Toufik Almansouri, Hassan Annab, Salah Alqaady, Harith Hamid, Hisham Tarmoom, Haitham Shehab Essam Bulghayth, Hisham Alyousefy - are still being brutally physically and psychologically tortured in Habra prison for the fifth day in a row, last Tuesday (12 April) they were isolated their hands and legs were attached they were hanged and beaten with sticks and chains and rifles until blood flowed from their bodies, they are also threatened with electric shocks, they were deprived from food and sleep and toilets.

Since that date, the prison administration prevented us from visiting them and do not allow us to provide them with medicines , which increases our concern about their lives due to continuous torture."

”We demand all human rights and humanitarian organisations, especially the United Nations take urgent action to save our children and to stop the torture immediately and to allow us to visit them and release them.”

The families allege that the Houthis are using the same brutal methods of torture on journalist Akram Alwaleedy at al Thawra prison. He is also prevented from receiving visits.

IFJ President Jim Boumelha said : «The torture must stop and the journalists must be freed. We welcome the release of our two colleagues but more needs to be done to free all those still held captive and to enable Yemeni journalists to work free from violence and kidnapping.»

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 16

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