By Salem bin Sahel, Peace Journalist magazine, October 5, 2020
The Peace Journalism Platform is an urgent initiative to stop the war that began plaguing Yemen five years ago.
Yemen is facing the worst era in its history. The lives of citizens are threatened from several directions, firstly the war, then poverty, and finally the Covid-19 pandemic.
In light of the spread of many epidemics and famines, hardly any media in the Yemeni media have any voice because of the parties’ preoccupation with the conflict and their funding of the media that only transmits military victories.
The conflicting parties are numerous in Yemen and the people do not know who their government is in the presence of three heads of state created by war.
Therefore, it has become necessary for journalists in Ye- men to know peace journalism, which was taught in a recent seminar (see story, next page). Peace journalism represents the voice of truth and gives peace initiatives the priority in issuing news and tries to bring the views of the warring parties closer to negotiations to get out of this crisis. PJ leads a trend towards development, reconstruction, and investment.
On World Press Freedom Day 2019, we young journalists managed to establish a group in the Hadramout Governorate, southeast of Yemen, a peace journalism platform with the aim of calling for an end to the fighting and unifying the media efforts to spread peace speech.
The Peace Journalism Platform in Al-Mukalla city launched its first work with the first peace press conference which witnessed the signing of 122 charter of Yemeni activists for of professional work.
It has been difficult to work in one of the most challenging environments to drive positive change, strengthen civil society, and secure human rights. However, the Peace Journalism Platform has managed to move forward for more than a year towards promoting peace initiatives and achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals.
The founder of the Peace Journalism Platform Salem bin Sahel was able to represent Yemen in several international conferences and meetings with the United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, and to build a network of relationships to expand the group’s activities at the level of Yemen.
While we work in peace journalism with self and indepen- dent efforts, traditional war journalism gets funding and support from the parties to the conflict. But we will remain committed to our message despite all the difficulties and challenges. We seek to employ the Yemeni media to achieve a just peace that ends the tragedy of five years of the war.
The Peace Journalism Platform aims at specialized media looking for peace and sustainable development, empowering journalists, women and minorities in society, and promoting the values of democracy, justice, and human rights without compromising the basic principles of journalism.
The peace journalism stance stresses the cessation of the violation of the rights of Yemeni journalists, many of whom face threats and torture in prisons.
One prominent activity by the Peace Journalism Platform was the “Women in Humanitarian Work” seminar, in which 33 women leaders and workers in the field of humanitarian relief for the displaced and refugees were honored and the celebration of “Our Life is Peace” on the occasion of World Peace Day 2019. This event included a panel discussion on “Challenges of Peace Journalism and Its Impact on Reality” and the launching of a competition for Yemeni journalists to depict pictures with connotations expressing peace.
On the commemoration of UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Security and Peace on October 30, 2019, the Peace Journalism Platform held a workshop on “Ensuring the Par- ticipation of Women in Bringing Peace.” On International Women’s Day 2020, the platform held a workshop entitled, “Implementing Women’s Rights in the Local Media” with the aim of enhancing women’s capabilities. Women Journalists can lead the media towards peace, in addition to focusing media on the issues of violence faced by women in society and supporting the efforts of women activists.
Since its inception, the Peace Journalism Platform has recorded a record of field activities and press demonstrations that call for peace. Peace Journalism Platform accounts are published on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and WhatsApp. These social media platforms also shed media coverage on United Nations initiatives to stop the war and on Yemeni youth peace initiatives.
In May 2020, the platform launched a virtual free space on Facebook called Peace Journalism Society with the aim of enabling journalists in Arab countries to share their experiences covering conflict and human rights issues. The “Peace Journalism Society” aims to interact with member journalists and share their interests about peace media and reward them by publishing press grant updates.
With the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in Yemen, the Peace Journalism Society has also contributed to educating people about the risk of contracting the virus and publishing updates on the pandemic from reliable sources. In addition, the Peace Journalism Society held a cultural competition on its pages for the purpose of investing in the domestic stone of citizens in promoting cultural, historical and national identity and embodying people’s love and their attachment to the necessity of peace in the country. Also, it has also given the displaced people and refugees in the camps special coverage based on its goals to convey the voice of vulnerable and marginalized groups.
The Peace Journalism Platform continually strives to establish programs that give those who have no voice a representation in the community media through its meetings with community radio stations in Yemen and their call to convey the aspirations and concerns of people.
The peace journalism platform remains a glimmer of hope for all citizens in Yemen to achieve a just and comprehensive peace that ends the aspirations of warring people and turns them from tools of conflict to tools of building, development, and reconstruction for Yemen.