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Al Mezan condemns threats and assaults on journalists; calls them to face threats with solidarity


Infringements on the freedom of media and assaults on journalists have escalated in the Gaza Strip.
This has been represented by frequent beating of journalists and destroying their cameras and cassettes, or arresting and threatening them while carrying out their work.
These conducts are aimed at fostering censorship and silencing journalists in Gaza.
They come at a time when Palestinians are in a crucial need for free, impartial press and honest sources of information to unveil violations of rights and freedoms and put them at scrutiny in the society.
On 31 August 2007, two journalists, Mustafa As-Sawaf, who is the chief editor of Palestine Newspaper, and Imad Al-Franji, who is the director of Al Watan Media Services, received text-messages at their mobile phones; both contained insults and threats to their lives.
The threats said that booby-trapped cars are already set to kill them.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights views with much concern this unprecedented development.
Al Mezan strongly condemns these threats.
The Center invites the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and the political powers in OPT to take all the necessary measures to guarantee that journalists are kept outside the political struggle, which has grown so violent.
These parties bear clear obligations towards the protection of journalists' safety and freedom of expression and work without discrimination based on their political or ideological opinion.
The Center also calls the PNA to initiate a prompt investigation into this serious conduct to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
The Center calls journalists to show solidarity and cooperation to foster their ability to defend themselves and their right to express their opinions and work freely within the limits of the law.
Al Mezan asserts the obligation of journalists to play an effective role in promoting societal and political unity, and advance the crucial reconciliation in the Palestinian society at this very particular juncture.
It calls them to refrain from focusing on dividing factors and encouraging violence by incitement, which represent illegal and unprofessional acts that have more than often diverged the media from playing its noble role of promoting tolerance, pluralism and diversity.
The Center calls on the PNA and the political powers to combat the rising culture of incitement and censorship by invoking the cultural values and legal mechanisms in order to ensure the protection of journalists.
Those who assault or threaten journalists must be pursued and brought to justice without delay to protect liberty in the Palestinian society.

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