October 14, 2015
BRUSSELS: The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today joined its affiliate, the Yemen Journalists´ Syndicate (YJS), in calling for the immediate release of three Yemen media workers kidnapped by al-Qaeda on October 12.
According to the YJS´s reports, correspondent of Al Azal TV Amir Bou Owaydan, correspondent of Yemen Al Yamw Mohamed Al Makri, and cameraman Akram al-Yamani were kidnapped in Mukalla city, Hadramout region, last Monday, while covering a protest against the presence of al-Qaeda from the city.
The IFJ today backed the YJS in condemning the incident and in demanding the immediate release of these colleagues as well as the protection of their lives.
“These latest kidnappings remind us that journalists have sadly become pawns in wider geopolitical fights,” said IFJ´s President, Jim Boumelha. “Once again, we stand by our Yemeni colleagues and their families in their daily suffering in their duty to report. We urge their captors to immediately release them and, in the meantime, to ensure their physical safety.”
This is the first time that al-Qaeda has taken reporters hostage in the country since the kidnapping in 2013 of US photographer Luke Somers, who sadly lost his life last December during a failed attempt by the US Special Forces to have him released. The group had never kidnapped any local journalist before.
Nine journalists have been killed so far in 2015 in Yemen, according to IFJ´s statistics, as a consequence of the fight between Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition. These three kidnapped media workers bring to 17 the number of journalists and media staff who are believed to be held in the country, mostly by Houthi rebels. They include nine who were kidnapped by the rebels June 9 at a hotel in the capital, Sana’a, from where they were reporting.
The IFJ is highly concerned by the deterioration of the press freedom and the safety of media workers in Yemen. To this end, the Federation launched a campaign last month to increase awareness worldwide about their situation. One of the main actions is a letter to Houthis´ leader, with the Special Representative of UN Secretary General for Yemen in copy. - IFJ
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