March 08, 2005

Call for Action: Yemeni Journalist Jailed

As many of you know, Jane at Armies of Liberation has been conducting a one-woman campaign on behalf of Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani, a Yemeni journalist who was imprisoned for writing an editorial that criticized the Yemeni President.

Jane's petition will be presented to President Saleh on March 17th, several days in advance of Mr. Khaiwani's next trial date (trials have been delayed before, on flimsy pretexts; the Yemeni President is also head of the judiciary, for despotic one-stop shopping). Jane would like at least 400 signatures by the time she sends this material to President Saleh. I'm hoping we can do even better than that. As it stands, she has a number of the blogosphere's heavy hitters on her list, which is available for viewing.

Those of us who enjoy freedom of speech and the press must remind ourselves what a blessing it is, and have an obligation to speak up for those who do not yet fully possess these rights. Some Yemeni journalists have signed the petition at risk to themselves and their families: the least we in the West can do is to follow their example. If you live in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or Western Europe, I urge you to make a statement, here.

[/schoolmarmish lecture]

Jane's petition reads—

To President Saleh:

We the undersigned private citizens of many nations are writing to demonstrate our solidarity with Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani and Yemeni journalists.

We have come to the conclusion that Mr. al-Khaiwani is a prisoner of conscience having examined the details of the case including his irregular trial, his lack of a defense, the charges which include insulting the president, and his inability for six months to receive his appeal after several scheduled court dates.

We express our commitment to the concept of a free press in Yemen and to the Yemeni people as they peacefully work toward representative government.

We trust that Mr. al-Khaiwani's new court date set for March 22, 2005 will not be delayed again, as occurred five times previously. We hope that his appeal will be heard by a judicial member acting with independence and the authority of conscience.

We are concerned for Mr. al-Khaiwani's health and will be monitoring his well being through time. We ask that you do your utmost to insure his care.

We are acting with respect and affection for the Yemeni people in asking that you permit the free flow of ideas both in the media and in society. This is the essence of democracy.


The Undersigned

Please. Let's bring some pressure to bear on this guy. I'm counting on you guys to spread the word over the next 10 days.


Posted by Attila at March 8, 2005 11:57 AM

Ick. Do we have to have a "call for action?" That's so … Indymedia.

The cause is just. My quibble, as always, is embarrassingly superficial.

Posted by: Jeff Harrell at March 8, 2005 02:28 PM


Posted by: Attila Girl at March 8, 2005 03:56 PM

I'm so very greatful for your help with this.

Posted by: Jane at March 8, 2005 04:13 PM

(Actually I'm teary eyed.)

Posted by: Jane at March 8, 2005 04:26 PM

Let's hope it helps. I recently read there are scores of university professors locked up in Libya, our new friend & business partner

Posted by: jeff at March 9, 2005 10:06 AM

Laws, sausages, and short-term trading arrangements. Ugh. It's very difficult to know which is better for getting these regimes to change: carrots vs. sticks.

At least the stick is now taken as seriously as the carrot. But most problems remain.

Posted by: Attila Girl at March 9, 2005 04:40 PM

Especially when Yemen is such an important partner in the WOT as they are grinding free speech under their heel. I am hoping this effort of ours will impact popular opinion though as I have declared myself to be a pro-Bush, pro-American American, and we are the only ones standing. The petition actually looks rather lovely with all the American names mixed with the Yemeni names. Also a democratic Yemen is a great revenge on bin Laden for 9/11.

Posted by: Jane at March 9, 2005 07:14 PM

The more I hear about the details of human rights abuses, the more I want to laugh when people talk about our attempts to "impose democracy at the point of a gun."

Posted by: Attila Girl at March 9, 2005 08:26 PM

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic "Let the issues be the issue.

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See Jane Novak's "Yemeni Watch" blog,
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