Protest at newspaper ban

Yemeni forces yesterday dispersed a rally of 200 people in Aden who were demonstrating against the suspension of al-Ayyam newspaper, Reuters reports. About 15 of the paper’s employees were arrested during the rally.

Established in the 1950s, al-Ayyam is Yemen’s oldest independent daily newspaper. It was one of seven papers banned by the information minister last May for allegedly promoting “separatism” (the others were al-Nada, al-Shari’, al-Masdar, al-Mustaqila, al-Diyar and al-Watani). More details fromReporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Meanwhile, in the southern province of Lahj yesterday, “thousands” marched on the governor’s office demanding the arrest of those responsible for Friday’s apparent separatist attack which killed three people. Since the authorities also want them arrested, this demo seems to have been unmolested by security forces. Four people are being sought for the killings, including a retired army colonel, according to the official news agency.

In a curious remark on Saturday, President Salih said: “We cannot call only people in southern provinces as separatists but we have separatists across the country … here as well in Sana’a.” It’s beginning to sound as if Salih defines a “separatist” (infisaali) as anyone who disagrees with him.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 13 July 2009.