Two journalists killed by snipers

21 Mar
Jamal Al-Shar’abi (left) freelance journalist and a photographer was killed in the protest. However, journalists are still concerned as covering protests is not the only cause behind the abuse or deaths. Last year, Ali Al-Rabo’e (right) journalist in Hajja governorate, was killed by unknown men for his reports on corruption cases.
Malak Shaher, Yemen Times

Published:21-03-2011

SANA’A, March 20 — Jamal Al-Shar’abi and Mohammad Al-Thulaya were the first journalists to be killed in Yemen’s unrest on Friday when snipers opened fire on anti-government protesters in Sana’a.The two journalists were shot by snipers while taking photos of the protests, according to Abdul Rahman Barman, lawyer at the National Organization for Human Rights (HOOD), who also was at the protest when snipers opened fire.Eyewitnesses say the snipers were highly skilled marksmen who shot protesters in vital areas such as the head, neck and chest. According to the Ministry of Interior, 24 people were killed on Friday. However, the number is increasing as more of the injured succumb to their wounds.“They died holding their cameras,” said Barman. “Journalists are simply observers and should not be treated as part of the protest.”

Al-Shar’abi, 34, worked as a photographer and a freelance journalist. He was originally from Taiz but worked in Sana’a.  Al-Thulaya, however, lived in Amran and worked for a newspaper run by the Islah opposition party.

Barman added that HOOD received complaints from a number of journalists who said that they received death threats and were told they would be fired from their regular jobs if they continued to work as freelance journalists.

Ahmad Al-Lahabi, the communication officer at the Ministry of Information, told the Yemen Times that the ministry will endeavor to protect journalists who have received threats.

Al-Lahabi added that the ministry is not the source of these threats and that it promotes press freedom.

Last week, national security forces deported eight foreign journalists who were covering recent events in Yemen. Of the deported journalists, two were British, three were American, one was Italian and the others were Aljazeera Arabic employees.

Al-Lahabi said that the journalists were in possession of tourist or student visas, not press visas. However, the journalist’s claim they were invited by the ministry to press conferences before and after demonstrations began in Sana’a in mid February.

Corruption cases behind deaths of journalists

Jamal Al-Shar’abi and Mohammad Al-Thulaya were not the only journalists killed fulfilling their professional duties in the wake of violence against protesters. In February last year journalist Ali Al-Rabo’e, who was working for Al-Qahira newspaper in Hajja governorate was killed by an unknown group of armed men said to be involved in “a dirty deal”.

The case involved a contractor who was responsible for providing people in Hajja with non-potable water.

Al-Rabo’e was killed when he was on his way to work in the morning, an incident that spread fear among journalists that they may be killed at any time, even outside of conflict zones.

“If a day goes by where I don’t receive a death threat, I think something is wrong,” said Abdul Kareem Al-Khaiwani, former editor-in-chief of Al-Shora newspaper run by the Islah opposition party.

According Al-Khaiwani, he received threats from “people in power” he knows but refused to name them. The last threat he received was a week ago.

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