While the USS Cole bombers are all free in Yemen, my friend the Yemeni journalist Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani will be sentenced May 21 in a bogus trial and likely will get the death penalty or a long prison term. He is charged with insulting the president and demoralizing the military with an article about the Sa’ada war. He is an internationally renowned journalist and one of Yemen’s most prominent and outspoken democracy advocates.
This is the guy I made the online petition for in March 2005 and the bloggers all helped and he got amnesty. Since then he and I have become good friends. He loves democracy and hates al-Qaeda as much as I do. And he’s paid the price for it. Since he was released in 2005, Al-Khaiwani has been beaten, kidnapped, censored and imprisoned. His paper was cloned, his website blocked and his children threatened.
Al-Khaiwani was badly beaten during his arrest in June 2007. His daughter, six year old Ebba, was slapped by police so hard that she fell unconscious. After Al-Khaiwani’s arrest and release on bail, he was kidnapped and badly beaten again. The US State Department issued a statement from DC noting his abduction pointed to, “disturbing trend of intimidation and harassment of Yemen’s journalist community.”
Al-Khaiwani was charged on July 4 with aiding the rebel movement by publishing war news. As you may know, the war in Sa’ada has been called a state sponsored genocide with strong parallels to the Sudan. I published photos of the damage in Sa’ada caused by indiscriminate (or deliberate) government bombing. I interviewed rebel spokesman Yahya al-Houthi, and posted it. (My website is now banned in Yemen.) By the standard of “demoralizing the military”, I’d also be subject to the death penalty if I was in Yemen. So would half of the bloggers here in the US.
As al-Khawiani’s sentencing approaches on May 21, fear is growing in Yemen and internationally that a guilty verdict in his case will open the door for a brutal crackdown on Yemen’s already endangered journalistic community. (Source: Not Ready for My Burqua)
We’re still away off from this, but if we don’t rein in Canada’s Star Chambers now, this is what they can morph into in due time. In the future, if the docile citizens to do not comply with the prime directives of the State and their thugs at the Star Chambers, this is what can happen.
Al-Khaiwani today in one banana republic. Mark Steyn tomorrow in another.
The only silver lining is that Al-Khawani is not being tried by the Canadian Star Chambers where there is a 100% conviction rate.