Middle East

Yemen TV presenter announces brother’s death on air

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionYemen TV presenter announces brother’s death on air

It was one of the most difficult news bulletins that Mohammed al-Dhabyani had presented.

His voice cracked as he told viewers that his brother Amin's body had arrived home in the south-western Yemeni province of Dhamar.

He paused and regained his composure before then describing in detail how his brother had died.

Amin, he said, was one of dozens of detainees killed last week in air strikes on a military police camp run by the rebel Houthi movement in the capital, Sanaa, by a Saudi-led coalition that is backing Yemen's government in the country's civil war.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The prison building and a perimeter wall were heavily damaged in the air strike

Mohammed is a presenter with Suhail TV and relocated with the Yemeni private satellite channel to Saudi Arabia after its offices in Sanaa were attacked on several occasions.

Suhail TV was one of many media outlets forced to close or move after the Houthis and their erstwhile allies - forces loyal to the late ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh - seized Sanaa in September 2014.

Amin, 28, was detained by the Houthi fighters in August in the shop in the city where he worked as a graphic designer.

His younger brother Mamoun, who was also seized but was later released, said they were told that they were being detained because their brother was a journalist opposed to the Houthis.

Image copyright Suhail TV
Image caption An on-screen graphic shown on Suhail TV as Mohammed reported his brother's death

Mohammed says that when he heard that the coalition had bombed the military police camp in the Shaub district where Amin was being held, he was terrified, gripped by a sense of shock and fear.

Other members of their family desperately searched Sanaa's hospitals for Amin, clinging to the hope that he had survived.

The military police camp was struck several times by coalition warplanes in the early hours of 12 December.

The United Nations says at least 45 people were killed and 53 others injured, all of them loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The UN said that all of those killed and injured were detainees at the prison

On Sunday, as hundreds turned out in the Dhabyani family's village to receive Amin's body, Mohammed felt that he owed it to his brother to announce his death on television.

"I thought, I can't surrender to the sadness," he recalls. "How can I not announce that he was martyred when it was because of my work as a journalist?"

Mohammed says that being apart from his family at this time is particularly difficult because they had not come to terms with the death of his brother Ahmed in September 2015 before learning that Amin had been killed.

It was a few months after he had arrived in Riyadh and Mohammed was preparing to go on air when he learnt that Ahmed had been killed on the frontline in Marib.

Mohammed did not imagine that two years later, he would once again be steeling himself to announce another loss from a TV studio abroad.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

More on this story