The indefatigable Jane Novak at Armies of Liberation has been following closely and publicizing the case of Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani, a jailed pro-democracy Yemeni dissident. She has received a letter from him from a jail in Sana’a via two avenues; extended portions are published at Armies of Liberation. She has also created a petition. Here is a message from Jane about this case:
This is an example of what Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani has written about freedom of the press in Yemen: “Since fifteen years, we have experienced democracy and multi-party system as well as breathed the fresh air of freedom, all which are the achievements of Yemen Unification. Soon later, a regression occurred in this experience after the summer of 1994 civil war. These achievements were emptied from their core cause leaving a margin of press freedom through which we battled to defend democracy, freedom, human rights, equal citizenship, and independent judiciary system, all being conditions for a better future and means to combat corruption and absence of law….
Leaders in our region transform into Gods. They even become to believe in their fake holiness which we aim to shatter so that they know they are humans just like us. Democracy and freedom are not granted by a leader or a regime, it is a world-wide human achievement of all the free people on earth…”
Mr al-Khaiwani is currently imprisoned in Yemen for the charge of insulting the president with opinion pieces written in his newspaper, al-Shoura. The articles were not written by him. The paper was banned. His case was heard during the judicial vacation. He was not permitted to launch a defense. He was sentenced to a year in prison in contradiction of President Saleh’s earlier statement that journalists would no longer be imprisoned for what they write.
Al-Khaiwani’s appeal has been delayed five times. Most recently on March 1, the appeal was postponed until March 22, 2005. There are reports that he has been severely assaulted on numerous occasions while in prison, once resulting in a broken jaw.
The World Association of Newspaper Editors, Reporters San Frontiers, and Amnesty International have all highlighted his case. The US State Department listed Mr. al-Khaiwani twice by name in their recent Report on Human Right in Yemen, once in the “denial of fair trial” section and again in the “press freedom” section.
At this website, http://www.petitiononline.com/khaiwani/petition.html you will find a petition in support of Mr. al-Khaiwani’s right to an appeal and in support of freedom of the press in Yemen generally. It will be delivered on March 20th, prior to the new appeal date. Kindly consider adding your voice to the growing appeal on Abdulkarim’s behalf.