As Yemen’s Civil War carries on without a glimpse of conclusion, reporters face increasing danger. In the 2018 World Press Freedom Index Yemen ranked 167, sitting below media-repressive countries such as Iraq and Iran.
Ever since the Islamic extremist group known as the Houthis captured Yemen’s capital Sana’a, local journalists, like Mohammed al-Qadhi, have been forced to flee to other parts of Yemen or even to other countries.
Starved to death, tortured, used as a human shield: any journalist exposing violence and corruption in Yemen can become a target https://t.co/lgHFF9UELT pic.twitter.com/Or0ZP9Jwkl
— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) July 19, 2018
Al-Qadhi fled from Sana’a to Taiz, the third largest city in Yemen. He stated in an interview with DW that he would be lucky if he could see his family even once per year.
According to the International Federation of Journalists, there were twenty-nine assassination attempts on journalists by Houthi operatives in the past year, three of which were successful.
In an interview with Reuters in May, Taiz-based journalist Marib Ward stated that the Houthis were conducting a witch hunt against any and all reporters that publish criticisms of the rebel group.
He added that “Houthi leader [Abdul Malik al-Houthi] encouraged people to target reporters and called them more dangerous than fighters.”
Foreign reporters accuse #Yemen's Houthi rebels of imprisoning them in bases to be targeted by #Saudi airstrikeshttp://t.co/EM49d6INdv
— Fahad Nazer (@fanazer) May 28, 2015
Last year, Yemen’s Study and Economic Media Center (SEMC) published a report detailing the outward flow of journalists since 2014. Over 400 journalists were displaced, a third of which are affiliated with the Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate.
The Committee to Protect Journalists reported last month that at least three reporters were detained by Houthi forces in late June and early July. Anwar al-Rakan was freed after having been detained by the Houthis, but died two days later as a result of prolonged torture, starvation and illness while detained.
In March this year, gunmen ransacked the headquarters of Akhbar Al-Youm, an independent newspaper based in Aden. This was just one of 200 attacks on TV and radio stations in the last three years. As the Houthis continue to capture major cities in Yemen, reporters’ safety is at increasing risk.