MADA: Spike in violations against media freedoms in Palestine
Ramallah - 27 September 2012: The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) has reported on a deeply concerning spike in abuses of media freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territories over the past week.
This includes serious violations committed by internal security forces in the Gaza Strip and the arrest of two journalists in Nablus by security services in the West Bank.
Last Tuesday, 25 September 2012, was a particularly bad day for violations against freedom of expression in Gaza.
Most shocking was the severe beating of "Palestine Today" cameraman Ismail Alibdh by Hamas Internal Security. Alibdh told MADA he was simply filming a burning house in the Bureij area, which had resulted in the death of a child and injured his sister and father.
Alibdh told MADA Center that when he started filming, a number of internal security staff approached and asked him to stop, which he did. Alibdh added: "Although I stopped filming, around four men approached and beat me, then they took me to a second, isolated location. There interrogated me about why I was filming the house and I told them I was a cameraman for “Palestine Today”. They abused me and then released me, after more than an hour.”
Sawt Alshaab, from "Voice of the People" Radia also received a threat for the similar reason over the telephone, the director of the radio HusienJamal told MADA Center that the radio station ran live coverage of the burning house, including local protests to which police and internal security responded. During this live coverage, an anonymous caller threatened to assault staff. Jamal said: "I want to send the message that we often recieve threats when we cover sensitive events. I'm calling on Palestinian authorities to provide a safe working environment for journalists."
On Monday 24 September 2012, writer and blogger Yousri Ghoul, who is editor of the Madarat magazine in the Ministry of Culture, was reported for urgent investigation by the Employee Bureau in Gaza city after publishing an article titled "Literary Thoughts." He was pressured to delete the article from his blog. Ghoul said: "I was investigated about the article and my intention in writing it, then in a second interrogation I was told I was being investigated because of conversations between myself and Ministry staff about the Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Mohammed Madhoun. I said if that was the case, why was I being interrogated about the article, and why was I pressured to delete the article from my blog?"
In a separate incident on Tuesday, internal security prevented journalists from covering the march which began near the Legislative Council in Gaza, calling for an end to internal division between Fateh and Hamas. AFP photographer Mohammed Albaba said internal security prevented all journalists at the scene from covering the march ,on the grounds that it was unlicensed. Albaba added: "One of the security men asked me to close my camera, so I demanded he show his official order, and he replied that the march was unlicensed, so coverage was prohibited."
In addition, the Magistrate's Court in Nablus extended the detention of Alquds Press reporter Mohammed Mona, for another 15 days. Mona was arrested by the Preventive Security Service on Wednesday, 19 September 2012 .
The same court also rejected a new request by a MADA Center lawyer to release journalist and writer Walid Khalid on bail today. The Preventive Security Service arrested Khaled on 18 September, 2012.
MADA condemns these repeated attacks on media freedoms in Palestine and calls on the relevant authorities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to:
1. Immediately release detained journalists in the West Bank.
2. Cease prosecutions and assaults of journalists.
3. Respect freedom of opinion and expression, and Article 19 of the Palestinian Basic Law, which clearly guarantees this right.
4. Hold to account those who beat or threaten journalists, particularly the attack on cameraman Ismail Alibdh.
5. Refrain from coercing journalists as part of internal differences between Fatah and Hamas.