MADA: Attacks against journalists in Ramallah a flagrant violation of Palestinian law
The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) has condemned a series of attacks against journalists on 1 July 2012, which are in direct contravention of the Palestinian Basic Law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The attacks occurred while the journalists were covering a march, which was organized to oppose the suppression of demonstrators in an earlier march, held on Saturday 30 June 2012. The protests were opposing a planned visit by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The journalists who reported being attacked are: Reuters photographer Saed Hawari, journalist Mahmoud Harebat, Alhayat Aljadeda newspaper photographer Issam Rimawi and Quds media center photographer Ahmad Odeh. Freelance journalist Ahmad Musleh has also reported being detained for half an hour.
Hawari told MADA Centre tha detective dressed in civilian clothes jumped on him while he was covering the march and tried to take his camera. Hawari said he resisted, but he was attacked and severely beaten. Hawari said: "I defended myself as a reaction and pushed him, so he threatened me, saying that he knows who I am and will beat me again. I was threatened in front of the demonstrators. I suffered bruising to the neck and I could not sleep because of the pain."
Issam Rimawi said one of the detectives in civilian clothes pushed him while he was covering the arrest of one of the demonstrators, and tried to take his camera. Rimawi said he refused and the detective was trying to push him away from the scene so that he could not cover the march.
For his part, Harebat told MADA: "I was standing with my colleagues during the march and when one of the detectives attacked my friend and colleague, Issam Rimawi, I rushed towards him and told the detective to leave him alone because he was a journalist and held a press identification. The detective did not respond to my request and attacked me too. He pushed me and attacked most of the journalists in the march with great violence. When we told him that we were journalists, his violence grew, as if he was targeting the press directly. My colleague, Ahmed Odeh, was also attacked and they confiscated his camera.”
The freelance journalist Ahmad Musleh reported that he was detained for half an hour at the police station in the city of Ramallah. He told MADA: "During the march, I saw detectives in civilians clothes walk among the demonstrators and arrest one of them, beating him violently. So I walked and stood aside although I wasn’t filming. One of the security men tried to take my camera, but I did not let him and I caught the camera firmly. In this moment, a young man showed a card to the detective and told him that we were press and human rights activists, we were doing our job and covering the events and he should not treat us in that way. After that he took us to the police station in Ramallah and took the camera, without seeing the pictures taken inside. A moment later, a large crowd of demonstrators gathered at the entrance to the police station and demanded that the security men release us. We were released, after the security forces took our names and copies of our identity cards. They didn’t beat us, but they shouted and pushed us back at the protest.”
MADA Center issued a press release on Sunday (1 July 2012) calling for an inquiry into the attack on journalist Mohamad Jaradat last Saturday by a group of police men. MADA welcomes the Interior Minister’s decision to form a committee to oversee an inquiry into a series of attacks over Saturday and Sunday evening . However, we also emphasize the need for a transparent investigation and for the results to be published. This is the only way to make sure that all those responsible are held accountable.