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Concern expressed about media clampdown by Palestinian Authority

February 20, 2014 at 3:31 pm

The Palestinian Media Forum (PMF) has expressed its concern about the campaign of “arrests and detention of journalists and media professionals” by the Palestinian Authority’s security forces in the West Bank. The campaign is continuing despite repeated requests for the PA in Ramallah to end its alleged violations of media freedom.

In a press release the Forum stressed its objection to the arrest of Quds satellite TV correspondent Mamdouh Al-Hamamrah for several hours on 23 December. Mr. Al-Hamamrah was arrested for the second time while he was covering Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem. Quds TV’s programmes and production coordinator in the West Bank, Nawaf Al-Amer, was “summoned” to the Preventive Security headquarters on Christmas Day. Other Palestinian media workers to be detained recently include Akram Al-Natshah and Osama Shahin.

The PMF has a membership of dozens of Palestinian journalists; the organisation has demanded the “physical intervention” of PA President Mahmoud Abbas and the Ramallah Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, to secure “the immediate release of all detained Palestinian journalists, and [for] respect of freedom of speech and expression”. The Forum also stressed the importance of “allowing journalists to work within Palestinian territory safely, free from any political or security threats to their work.” In addition, said the PMF’s statement, journalists must be granted the freedom to discuss the real suffering of the Palestinian people.

Calling on other media bodies and trade unions, as well as human rights organisations, the Media Forum said they must all play “a more effective role and intervene immediately to pressure the government in the occupied West Bank for the release of political detainees” so that the “farce” enacted against journalists, media professionals, writers and intellectuals is brought to an end.