Yemen - Soldiers fire on Aden-based newspaper, killing one employee and wounding three others



    MONTREAL, May 13 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders condemns the
military assault which government soldiers launched against the headquarters
of the daily Al Ayyam in Aden (360 km south of Sanaa) at 11:30 a.m. today. One
of the newspaper's employees was killed and three others were wounded.
    "The Yemeni authorities have been going out of their way to persecute Al
Ayyam and this military assault is the culmination," Reporters Without Borders
said. "Even the world's worst dictatorships do not go this far. The countries
of the Arab League and the international community must intercede so that Al
Ayyam can resume working normally."
    The Yemeni army began its assault on Al Ayyam's headquarters, located in
the Aden district of Crater, by firing tear gas. This was followed by gunfire
that killed one employee and injured three others. Troops sealed off the
streets leading to the newspaper and set up military checkpoints to prevent
access to the neighbourhood.
    Harassment of Al Ayyam began to escalate on 1 May when a truck carrying
about 16,500 copies of the newspaper was intercepted by gunmen on the Lahej
road 50 km north of Aden. The driver was forced to abandon the truck and all
the copies were seized.
    The same thing happened on the morning of 3 May to two of the newspaper's
delivery trucks, one bound for Taez and the other for Sanaa. A total of 30,000
copies of the newspaper were taken and the drivers were held for 17 hours.
These attacks are believed to have been the work of a pro-government
organisation that claims to defend national unity.
    The next day, 4 May, the information minister banned the printing of Al
Ayyam and six other newspapers for allegedly promoting "separatism." Many
journalists staged a sit-in in Sanaa on 7 May in solidarity with the seven
newspapers.
    There were more attacks on the newspaper's vehicles on 9 May, while
police and soldiers made an attempt to arrest Al Ayyam editor Hisham Bashareel
on 11 May. Street leading to the newspaper were blocked the same morning. The
authorities claim that Bashareel is wanted for his role in a murder outside Al
Ayyam's office in Sanaa in 2008.
    Al-Ayyam's local correspondents have often been threatened in the past
and its Sanaa office was the target of an armed attack on 12 February 2008
(http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=25751).
    Created in 1958, Al-Ayyam is one of Yemen's leading dailies. It has no
political affiliation but, with headquarters in the southern city of Aden, it
acts as a mouthpiece of the inhabitants of the poor southern provinces and has
provided extensive coverage of the social unrest in the south in recent
months.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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