Yemenity2010's Blog

Brutal Attack on Parisian Satirical Paper

Posted in Uncategorized by yemenity2010 on 07/01/2015

Just today when I was about to put the finishing touches to a little light-weight piece about Paris, where we (me and my wife) spent a few hours last summer en route to Mexico, tragic news broke from the French capital. Apparently, armed men entered the facilities of a well-known French satirical magazine called Charlie Hebdo and opened fire. Twelve people have so far been reported dead, according to Huffington Post. More on this story is available from Al Jazeera English, BBC, CNN and probably a number of other sources. The publisher of Charlie Hebdo, Stéphane Charbonnier was one of the victims, according to multiple sources. Also, one policeman was supposedly shot dead by the assassins who reportedly were masked, dressed in black and witnesses near the scene stated that they were shouting ”We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad”. The paper has published provoking images of Muhammad before and was firebombed three years ago.

French President François Hollande called the massacre barbaric and ‘an attack on free speech’, and the French Muslim Council shared a similar statement, ”This extremely grave barbaric action is also an attack on democracy and the freedom of the press” (see Al Jazeera English for more). BBC also runs an accompanying story about the satirical paper and its tradition of pushing boundaries.

Tragic news also arrived from Yemen, the troubled country where I first started writing this blog. At least 38 people were killed by a car bomb close to the Police Academy in the capital Sana’a. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for this attack, but the target seems to have been members of the Houthi tribe, which lately has come to control large parts of the capital and also has a long running feud with AQAP, the Yemeni wing of Al Qaeda. AJE recently ran an analysis of this on-going conflict, which some people believe could lead to ”an all-out sectarian war”.

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Yemen Still Cause for Concern, According to UK Report

Posted in Blog Entry in English by yemenity2010 on 01/05/2014

kullarostadbearb”Widespread violations of human rights in Yemen continued during 2013, with the government showing limited capacity to improve the situation.” 

The very first sentence of a new report from the UK government.

So, what’s new? The government of the United Kingdom recently published a report on human rights and democracy around the world, including a chapter on Yemen, titled ”Yemen – Country of Concern”. Hardly unexpected, since that country always seems to be a source of concern for many concerned people inside and outside its borders. I stumbled on the current report thanks to a mention on another blog called The Wadi.

So, what’s the state of affairs in Yemen right now or at least during 2013, according to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office? Here are some excerpts: The minimum legal age for marriage has been an issue for some time now, since Yemen is one of the countries where a significant number of – yes, mostly girls – end up being married at a very early age. A so-called National Dialogue Conference has recommended changes, such as implementing av minimum legal age in this case, but really making it happen could take some time.

DSC06122Freedom of expression is said to have improved. Slightly, at least. The troubled nation is still parked among the lowest-rated in the World Press Freedom Index, currently 169 out of 179. Human rights defenders are still reported to suffer perscution. Yemen is presently ruled by what is called a transitional government as a result of the protests and upheavals that started in 2011 and which made long-time president Ali Abdullah Saleh resign and leave the country. There is room for improvement when it comes to the justice system, according to the new report. Evidence-based convictions are not as common as they should be, apparently. No surprise there either. My personal impression, based on the few things I managed to learn during my one year in Yemen in 2010 was that the justice system is arbitrary, to say the least.

The death penalty is still used. A lot, probably. Earlier it has been sort of an official secret that many of the executions are carried out in secret, ‘off the record’ and all statistics on the matter are highly unreliable. The UK report specifically comments on the use of capital punishment for juvenile offenders, which is in fact ”prohibited under Yemeni law”. It is also claimed that African migrants have been captured on arrival and tortured to ”extort their family details”. Who’s doing this? The report does not accuse the government of being perpetrators (as far as I can see) but criticizes authorities for not doing enough about it. Furthermore, some 300 000 people could be displaced in the country, following armed conflicts going on there.

gitarrtriobearb1Women’s rights… Always an issue here. The report claims that Yemen is currently ranked at number 148 out of 148 nations in a UNDP Gender Inequality Index. (Note: I have tried to find that exact statistic at UNDP:s website, but so far I’ve got a little lost among their tables and hope to be able to explore the topic more later on, sometime). While there are progress in some areas, in others the trend is arguably going backwards. Women are, at least on the surface, getting more influence in politics, but some of the female activists are being ”co-opted by political parties”. There is also an important difference between educated women and the majority; poor, uneducated women who still remain outside any real sphere of influence. What springs to my mind is the gap between men and women concerning literacy rate. Although the situation seems to improve slightly, the majority of men are considered literate while the majority of women are not, according to all available statistics. And I suspect there is still a big difference between urban and rural areas when it comes to girls’ possibilities to get even basic schooling.

Economically, Yemen as a whole ”remains the poorest country in the Middle East” according to the report, suffering from ”high levels of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition”. Some cold, hard numbers:

– Approximately ten million Yemenis do not get enough food each day

– 13 million lack access to safe water or sanitation

– 7,7 million don’t have access to health care

These were some ‘highlights’ from the corporate report ”Yemen – Country of Concern”, published by the United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Office, 10 April 2014.

Finland – Number One in Freedom of the Press According to New Report

Posted in Blog Entry in English by yemenity2010 on 16/02/2014

Processing the results as we speak… Another year, another ranking of press freedom in the world as we know it. Behind the report is Reporters Without Borders

Immediate observations from the map provided: In the top ten we find (and yes, in this case it’s a good thing to land on top) Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Denmark, Iceland, New Zealand and my home country Sweden – in that specific order. In the brief opening statement from the organization, the bottom three countries are also named; Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea where according to Reporters Without Borders ”freedom of information is non-existent”. Moreover, these nations are described as ”news and information black holes and living hells for the journalists who inhabit them”. All in all, 180 countries have been investigated.

I hope to be able to delve a little more deeply into the contents of this report soon… If time allows. For now, more on this topic can be found at the Reporters Without Borders own website.

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