Yemen: Yemen: Journalist Awad Kashmeem arbitrarily detained by elite security forces in Hadhramawt
In a very alarming attack against freedom of expression in Yemen, prominent independent journalist Awad Kashmeem was detained on 21 February 2018 by the Yemeni Army's elite security forces. The order to detain him came from the Governor of Hadhramawt, Faraj Al-Bahasni, following a statement Kashmeem posted on Facebook on 20 February 2018.
Kashmeem worked for “Aden Al-Ghad” newspaper before becoming editor for “November 30”, a Yemeni magazine that is published by the Baktheer Foundation for Press and Publication. Kashmeem was a board member of the Baktheer Foundation until he recently resigned, and is also a long-standing member of the Yemeni Union for Journalists, for which he is the head of the freedom of expression committee.
Kashmeem is well known for his campaigns against corruption by officials and for his strong critique of United Arab Emirates (UAE) military practices in Hadhramawt. All the forces in Hadhramawt are under the direct supervision of military leadership of the UAE, a country of the Arab alliance led by Saudi Arabia which has been waging war in Yemen and has control of the area.
The Facebook post (shown in the photo below) criticises the military propaganda of the UAE. In the posting, Kashmeem laments the loss of Yemeni lives, destruction of properties and criticises the reported victory in the last UAE military operation in Mukalla area, calling it a charade.
Kashmeem was taken into custody on his way to work by the elite security forces and was taken to an unknown destination. Some sources reported that he was being held in the army intelligence headquarters in Mukalla, the capital city of Hadhramawt, but the Yemeni authorities denied those reports.
Mukalla suffered a lot under Al-Qaeda’s control until 2016 when the UAE led an attack that devastated the city, following which it was occupied by UAE forces. Mukalla is considered the main base and the headquarters of UAE forces in Yemen.
Yemen is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, where many regional occupying forces show no respect for freedom of expression and jeopardise the lives of human rights defenders, journalists and other Yemeni citizens, leaving very little space for hope or safety in Yemen.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) expresses its deep concern about the enforced disappearance of Kashmeem, holding the UAE, as a party to the conflict controlling Mukalla, responsible for the safety and wellbeing of Kashmeem.
GCHR calls on the parties to the conflict to:
- Immediately release Awad Kashmeem, and guarantee that he and all other journalists can perform their duties and work in a secure and safe space;
- Offer proper security training and protection to all journalists – foreign and local – especially those working in conflict zones in Yemen;
- Release all journalists detained by parties to the conflict, including those detained as a result of their coverage of the war; and
- Fully respect freedom of expression.