Press freedom day 'a painful reminder' of decline in media rights
Published Friday 04/05/2012 (updated) 26/05/2012 23:39
Palestinian journalists protest police abuse outside a security compound
in the West Bank city of Bethlehem (MaanImages/Luay Sababa, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- World Press Freedom Day is a "painful reminder" of the significant decline in media freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territories, a media watchdog group said Thursday.
Mousa Rimawi, director of the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, or Mada, said such celebrations have meaning only in countries where journalists enjoy a right to opinion and expression.
For Palestinian journalists, Rimawi said, it highlights daily challenges "with increasing violations against media freedoms by the Israeli occupation and security services and Palestinian parties".
Rimawi said an upsurge in attention about recent Palestinian violations reflected a double standard on the part of the international community and press, which is "remaining silent about Israeli violations against Palestinian journalists and media institutions".
This attention has "encouraged the Israeli occupation to continue its attacks on journalists, including storming the headquarters of media outlets and confiscating their equipment," the official said.
He called for the international community to urgently intervene to free journalists Nawaf al-Amer, Amin Abu Warda, Walid Khalid, and Amer Abu Arafeh from Israeli jails. Israel's detention of these journalists without charge or trial is "a flagrant violation of human rights and international law," he said.
But he also expressed worry over continued Palestinian violations, citing a growing number of arrests of journalists and bloggers and the blocking of news websites.
"We at MADA condemn all attacks on journalists and reaffirm our commitment to defend media freedoms and freedom of expression," Rimawi said, noting that Palestinian violations against journalists exceeded Israeli offenses for the first time last year, according to records kept by Mada.
The center called on Palestinian authorities to respect freedom of opinion and expression guaranteed under the Basic Law and to support appropriate working conditions for journalists.