Reference: 48/2010


Yesterday evening, 3 May 2010, the Palestinian Center for Human
Rights (PCHR) and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
(OHCHR) organized a ceremony entitled "Distinguished Journalists" to
honor 25 journalists, who were granted international awards in 2009 and 2010
for their works. The ceremony was attended
by hundreds of journalists, representatives of media institutions and civil
society organizations and public figures.

 

 

This initiative of honoring journalists came due to the
belief of PCHR and OHCHR in the importance of the role played by Palestinian
journalists under severe conditions to ensure showing the truth regarding what
is happening in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), regardless of the
risks of being targeted by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). Such an initiative confirms the strategic and
complementary relationship between human rights defenders and journalists, who
work to document violations of human rights through their cameras.

 

The ceremony began by showing the distinguished journalistic
works, which won international awards, including photographs, video clips, articles
and features. After that, Jaber Weshah,
Deputy Director of PCHR, delivered a speech, in which he highlighted that this
ceremony constituted a confirmation of the correlation between press freedom
and human rights, and between people struggling for the realization of the
right to seek knowledge and people defending human rights. Weshah described Palestinian journalists as
unknown soldiers working under hostile conditions, regardless of the risks surrounding
them. He also stressed that they truly deserve
respect and appreciation. Weshah further
talked about IOF’s prevention of international journalists from entering the
Gaza Strip prior to the latest Israeli offensive, within the framework of IOF’s
efforts aiming at hiding their crimes and shield the crime scenes from the
world, which failed due to the efforts of the Palestinian Journalists, who
skillfully documented the crimes and violations perpetrated by IOF.

 

In her speech, Eva Tomic, Director of OHCHR in the OPT, said
that working under conditions similar to the conditions under which the
Palestinian journalists work had been considered a great challenge. She added that such challenges had increased
under the continuity of impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of violations of human
rights, unwillingness to prosecute them and bringing them to trial, the instable
political situation and unavailability of a unified political government in the
OPT. In addition, the closure imposed on
the Gaza Strip undermines the promotion of civil and political rights,
including the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Tomic highly appreciated the Palestinian
journalists’ efforts as they had worked under such harsh conditions and helped
in transferring stories during and after Operation Cast Lead to the public opinion
at the national and international levels. In the conclusion of her speech, Tomic encouraged Palestinian
journalists – not only on behalf of OHCHR and PCHR, but also on behalf of
victims of violations of human rights – to continue to defend human rights
issues through their reports and journalistic works.

 

In his speech on behalf of the honored Palestinian
journalists, journalist Talal Abu Rahma expressed the journalists’ thanks and
appreciation for PCHR and OHCHR for organizing such a ceremony. Abu Rahma explained the harsh and
deteriorating conditions of Palestinian journalists due to being targeted by
IOF, pointing to dozens of journalists, who were killed, wounded or detained by
IOF, under impunity enjoyed by the Israeli soldiers, which allows them to
perpetrate more crimes without being prosecuted.

 

In conclusion, the honored journalists were awarded the
honoring emblems. It should be noted that
three of the honored journalists were from the West Bank and they could not
enter the Gaza Strip to participate in the ceremony due to restrictions imposed
by IOF on the freedom of movement to and from the Gaza Strip. It was decided that the bodies organizing the
ceremony would take necessary measures to ensure delivering the honoring
emblems to the three journalists in the West Bank within the few coming days.