Yemen says goodbye to Hisham Basharaheel, leading local journalist
Several Yemeni senior officials traveled to Aden to attend his funeral. Prime Minister Mohamed Salem Basindawa, Defense Minister Mohamed Nasser Ahmed and other top officials were in attendance.
They prayed for Basharaheel in Al-Asqlani mosque in Aden’s Crater neighborhood. He was buried in Al-Qatee graveyard.
Basharaheel’s health deteriorated over the past few years, particularly since he was subject to attacks in reaction to articles published in his banned newspaper, Al-Ayam. In May 2009, the government banned Al-Ayam after security forces stormed its headquarters in Aden.
Once news spread about his death, intellectuals and businessmen in Aden gathered in the Al-Ayam newspaper offices to console the family of the departed journalist.
Journalist Wathiq Al-Shathli said that the death of Basharaheel is a great loss to journalism in Yemen. He added that Basharaheel struggled throughout his life because of his belief in democracy and freedom of expression.
Mohammed Abdullah Al-Mokhsaf, Basharaheel’s friend, indicated that Basharaheel had been subjected to such harassment that his possessions were confiscated and his house was strafed by bullets. Basharaheel had also been imprisoned in Aden.
Al-Mokhsaf said that the former regime was responsible for the repression that Basharaheel underwent throughout his career.
Abdulbari Tahr, former head of the Journalists’ Syndicate, said that Basharaheel helped his father publish the first issue of Al-Ayam in 1966, and it became the first independent newspaper known for its objectivity and neutrality.
Tahr remembered that Basharaheel used to edit his weekly newspaper from beginning to end. Due to the notoriety it earned, it became a daily newspaper in 2001.
Tahr asserted that because of the newspaper’s objectivity and independence, it faced much danger from the previous regime.
During the reign of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2009, the Yemeni government prevented distribution of Al-Ayam in Yemen’s south for reporting on Southern Movement demonstrations calling for secession. A heavy clash between Al-Ayam compound guards and the police resulted in many deaths, among them an officer.
The clash led to complete shutdown of the paper, which resulted in the layoff of its 620 workers, according to Abdulfattah Haidra, former Al-Ayam office chief.