Moroccan journalist Lmrabet on hunger strike

Moroccan journalist Ali Lmrabet has gone on hunger strike Wednesday 24th of June. Lmrabet started a sit-in in front of the UN headquarters in Geneva. Reason of his protest is the refusal by the Moroccan authorities to renew his passport and ID-document. He claims Morocco wants to silence him by turning him into an undocumented person.

Ali Lmrabet on hunger strike in front of the UN Palace of Nations in Geneva

Ali Lmrabet on hunger strike in front of the UN Palace of Nations in Geneva

Earlier Lmrabet, who has dual French and Moroccan nationality, was denied a Moroccan residence certificate in the city of Tetuan, where he was born. Without these documents Lmrabet is not allowed to restart working as a journalist in Morocco and relaunch his two satirical weeklies (one in Arabic and one in French).

This is not Lmrabet’s first hunger strike. Twelve years ago he refused to eat during 50 days. At the time he was in prison, condemned to three years for “insulting” king Mohamed VI. After an international campaign calling for his release he was pardoned in January 2004.

In April 2005 the Moroccan authorities forbade him to exercise the journalistic profession for ten years. This “Berufsverbot” has expired now, but Lmrabet can still not return to journalism is in his home country. For his on-line publication Demain (in French, Spanish and Arabic) see: http://www.demainonline.com/

For an account in French in the Tribune de Geneve see:

http://www.tdg.ch/news/standard/journaliste-marocain-greve-faim/story/17741203?track

Media Freedom under Pressure in Turkey

Human Right Watch’ Emma Sinclair-Webb spoke via Skype from Istanbul to the hundred or so attendants of the Press Freedom event in Amsterdam. The meeting on June 4 (on the eve of the Turkish elections on June 7) was organized by Zaman vandaag newspaper in cooperation with the Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ) and the writers’ association PEN-Nederland.

Zaman Vandaag editor-in-chief  Mehmet Cerit

Mehmet Cerit, editor-in-chief of Zaman Vandaag

Emma Sinclair-Webb stressed that Turkey has a vibrant civil society and the situation regarding media freedom and human rights is not as bad as in Russia or Egypt. However the public detentions in Turkey of journalists that appear to be without sufficient evidence they committed a criminal offense, will harm media freedom and chill free speech. In December last year, the editor of the daily Zaman newspaper was arrested, along with the head of Samanyolu broadcasting group and other media personnel.

DSC02026

Selçuk Gültaşlı, correspondent of Zaman in Brussels

Selçuk Gültaşlı, correspondent of Zaman in Brussels

Other speakers during the Amsterdam meeting were Selçuk Gültaşlı, correspondent of Zaman in Brussels; Sezin Öney, columnist for the Taraf newspaper and Ergun Babahan former editor-in-chief of Sabah. Babahan is threatened with a long prison sentence because of a publication about Bilal Erdogan, the presidents’ son.

Sezin Öney stressed the lack of ethical journalism in Turkey. Society and media are extremely polarized. According to Öney the tone of Turkish newspapers should be a bit more neutral. There is a lack of investigative journalism in Turkey. Most revelations about Turkish politics are coming from foreign media, not the local Turkish press.

DSC02022

Ergun Babahan, former editor-in-chief of Sabah newspaper

DSC02027

Marjanne de Haan, spokesperson Amnesty International Netherlands

All photo’s Jan Keulen

Yemeni journalists threatened; war underreported

yjs

In Yemen a humanitarian catastrophe is in the making. The war, which started in March, is getting uglier by the day. Daily air strikes and an air and naval blockade have disrupted normal life completely, caused enormous destruction and left about half of the 26 million Yemenis in need of food and other basic necessities.

We know all this because UN-organizations, humanitarian agencies like MSF and some international news agencies keep informing the world about the tragedy taking place in Yemen. But information is scarce. In fact Yemen has become hard to access for Arab and foreign journalists. Lack of electricity and poorly developed Internet infrastructure are hampering the citizens to use social media as alternative ways of covering the conflict.

The situation in Yemen has been underreported for years, but the current war has exercising journalism almost impossible. Foreign reporters are not allowed into the country since the Saudi-led campaign started. Yemeni journalists face the problem of finding reliable sources in this polarized country and are subjected to violence and mistrust. Saudi’s, their Yemeni allies nor the Houthi’s are open to the idea of independent reporting. All journalists who are not “on their side” are basically treated like enemies.

Last Friday (29th of May) Ali Saleh Sanhan, the manager of Saba News Agency office in Hajja governorate, was kidnapped. According to the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate Sanhan was taken to the Political Security prison in the governorate, a place that was targeted previously by the Saudi-led Arab coalition airstrikes. Ironically the syndicate called on the local and international rights organizations “to pressure the Houthis to find at least safe detention centres or release the detained journalists”. Earlier in May two Yemeni journalists were killed when the coalition bombed the Houthi locations where they were held.

The IFJ (International Federation of Journalists) has urged the Houthi kidnappers to release journalist Ali Saleh Sanhan as soon as possible. For more info see: http://www.ifj.org/nc/news-single-view/backpid/1/article/ifj-and-its-yemeni-union-urge-immediate-release-of-news-agencys-editor/

Prominent Omani blogger in solitary confinement

The Emirates State Security Apparatus has transferred prominent Omani blogger Muawiya Al-Rawahi to the Al Wathba prison, where he was placed in solitary confinement. This according to the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR). He had been detained incommunicado since February. Despite repeated attempts by his family and his colleagues, the UAE authorities have reportedly refused to disclose his whereabouts and refused to give any reason for his arrest, in addition to not revealing any specific charges against him.

On 24 February 2015, Muawiya Al Rawahi, was stopped by the UAE security intelligence agents at the border and was not allowed to return back to Oman. He managed to make contact with a fellow human rights defender and told him that he had been stopped. Since then he has remained in incommunicado detention and there are serious concerns for his safety.

In the last years Al Rawahi has been detained several times in his home country Oman. Last year he was held for almost a month in a psychiatric hospital in Muscat. For a recent report on the human rights violations in Oman see: http://en.alkarama.org/oman/1645-oman-alkarama-denounces-numerous-violations-in-view-of-the-state-s-upcoming-universal-periodic-review

Muawiya Al-Rawahi

Muawiya Al-Rawahi