lnternational PEN is gravely concerned for the safety of editor Muhammad Al-Maqalih, who was reportedly abducted from a Sana’a street on September 17, 2009, apparently by a group of plainclothes security agents. There are fears that he has been detained for his critical writings, and is at risk of ill-treatment. PEN calls upon the Yemeni authorities to clarify Muhammed Al-Maqalih’s whereabouts, and to release him immediately and unconditionally if he is held in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Yemen is a signatory.
Al-Maqalih, editor for the opposition Socialist Party's web site, Al-Eshteraki, was abducted following the publication of a report in Al-Eshteraki on alleged Yemeni military air strikes targeting civilians in the Sa'da Insurgency, which has been ongoing in the northwest of the country since June 2004. Amnesty International gives the following information:
Muhammad Al-Maqalih, a 49-year-old father of seven children, was abducted from a street in Sana’a at 11pm on September 17. Eyewitnesses told his family that he was taken by a group of men who arrived in a white minibus, which had its license plates obscured. The men took Muhammad Al-Maqalih and deflated one of the tires on his car, which was nearby. There has been no news of Muhammad Al-Maqalih since.
Muhammad Al-Maqalih is a journalist and a member of the Yemeni Socialist Party. Human rights activists in Yemen suspect that he may have been abducted by plain-clothes security forces personnel because of his criticism of the government, in particular with regards to the clashes between the army and followers of a Shi’a Muslim cleric in Sa’da. His comments criticizing the army’s killing of civilians were published on the Yemeni Socialist Party’s web site.
Abduction of political opponents and critics of the state by security agents is a known practice in Yemen, particularly during political crises such as the clashes in Sa’da. Those abducted are often tortured or otherwise ill-treated.
Mohammed Al-Maqalih was previouosly detained for several months in 2007 for "disrespecting the judiciary" after he laughed during the trial of award winning journalist, Abdulkarim Al-Khaiwani, who was sentenced to six years in prison in June 2008 for publishing articles critical of the government’s fight with rebels in Sa’da. Al-Khaiwani was a main case of International PEN, and was amnestied in September 2008.
Write A Letter
- Expressing grave concern for the well-being and whereabouts of editor Muhammad Al-Maqalih, and fears that he has been detained for his critical writings;
- Calling on the authorities to release Muhammad Al-Maqalih immediately and unconditionally if he is held in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Yemen is a signatory.
Send Your Letter To
His Excellency General ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Saleh
President of Yemen
Office of the President
Republic of Yemen
Fax: + 967 127 4147
Houda ‘Ali ‘Abdullatif al-Baan
Minister of Human Rights
Ministry for Human Rights
Republic of Yemen
Fax: +967 1 444 833
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative of the Yemen in your country if possible.
Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN if sending appeals after October 31, 2009: ftw [at] pen.org