Total of journalists abducted in Yemen in past five years reaches 20
An alarming total of at least 20 journalists have been the victims of enforced disappearance in Yemen since the start of the civil war in 2015, according to a tally by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). They include two journalists who were abducted by armed men in the past few weeks.
Most of these 20 journalists were kidnapped by either government forces or non-government forces and, in most cases, their families lack precise information about where they are being held or what has happened to them.
“Yemeni journalists are almost systematically targeted by armed forces, regardless of where they are located, and must often defend what they have written,” RSF’s Middle East desk said. “By treating journalists in this way, both the Houthis and the Arab coalition’s allied forces violate journalists’ right to protection.”
The latest victims include Mareb Today website editor Eyad Saleh, who was taken from his apartment in the southern city of Aden to an unknown location on 6 August by armed men, who also searched his apartment, the Media Freedom Observatory said.
They also include former Akhbar Al-Yom journalist Abdul Hafiz Al-Samadi, who was kidnapped by a group of armed men as he was heading to a grocery store in the Al-Jarda district of the capital, Sanaa, on 27 July. The family heard nothing for three days, until he managed to call them briefly from a strange number on 30 July.
“The only thing we know is that he is imprisoned and is being interrogated,” his brother Moaz said. During the call, Samadi asked them to hand over his laptop to the militiamen for the information it contains, or else “they will arrest you all.”
Samadi had contributed to several articles critical of the Houthis. He had stopped working as a journalist since the start of the war in 2015. Many other journalists have done the same for fear of being persecuted because of their journalism, but this has not prevented militiamen from tracking them down subsequently because of what they wrote.
They include ten journalists who were taken hostage by the Houthis in Sanaa in 2015 and who are facing possible death sentences.
Yemen is ranked 168th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.