Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Middle East: Palestinian Authority bans journalists from covering Hamas-led protests in Hebron


Arabic Network for Human Rights Information

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) denounces the intransigence of security forces affiliated with the Palestinian Authorities (PA) towards journalists and media professionals during their coverage of a demonstration in the city of Hebron, south of the West Bank, on 16 August 2013.

The protest was staged in response to calls by Hamas to support the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and denounce the Egyptian government's dispersal of the Islamist sit-ins in Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Nahda Square in Cairo.

Among those journalists who were beaten and prevented from covering the protest were; Akram Natsheh, a TV reporter for Quds TV, Mohamed Abu Ghania, a photographer for Reuters, Amer Abdeen, a Ball Media photographer, Asi Amrina, a reporter for Al-Aqsa TV, Hazem Badran, a photographer for the Agence France-Presse (AFP), and Eyad Saeed, a photographer for the Associated Press. Security officers seized their cameras from them as well.

The protest started after Friday prayers at the Hussein Ibn Ali Mosque. Soon after it was underway, forces assaulted protesters with batons, leading to the injuring of many.

“The stubbornness of Palestinian security forces in their treatment of journalists comes as part of a campaign launched against Palestinian media outlets by security forces, members of Hamas, and Israeli forces,” stated ANHRI, “Each side agrees to target journalists and prevent them from relaying the truth to the world in order to glass over the violations being committed against Palestinian citizens who aspire for freedom.”

The attacks during and the repression of the peaceful protest, as well as the banning of journalists from doing their jobs, are clear violations of Article 19 of the Palestinian Basic Law, which states that, “freedom of opinion may not be prejudiced. Every person shall have the right to express his opinion and to circulate it orally, in writing or in any form of expression or art, with due consideration to the provisions of the law.”

ANHRI calls on the Palestinian Authorities and Hamas to respect freedom of opinion, expression and assembly, and not to target journalists while on the job.