Date: 27 March 2007
Fifty NGO’s in Khan Yunis and Rafah Organize Express Solidarity with Alan Johnston
PCHR in cooperation with 50 civil society organizations in Khan Yunis and Rafah organized an event of solidarity with abducted journalist Alan Johnston. The event was organized in the Unknown Soldier Park in Gaza City. The participants expressed their solidarity with the reporter, condemned the abduction. In addition, they stated that the resurfacing of abductions of internationals is a serious violation of the rule of law, and a transgression on freedom of expression, pointing that the presence of international journalists and activists sheds light on the crimes perpetrated by Israeli occupation forces (IOF) against Palestinians. Further, they agreed that these abductions undermine the history and just struggle of the Palestinian people, who reject these crimes that go against Palestinian values and traditions.
In his speech, PCHR’s deputy director, Jaber Weshah, expressed solidarity with Alan Johnston, and the condemnation of Palestinian civil society of the abduction. He stated that this crime was perpetrated by a group of criminals who do not represent the Palestinian people and its values. He called upon the abductors to release Johnston immediately and unconditionally, noting that the continuation of abductions undermines the Palestinian cause.
Weshah demanded that the PNA work seriously to secure Johnston’s release, and to put an end to all abductions and other forms of security chaos. He stated that this action by the PNA should be also respect human rights. Weshah pointed that the alternative would be the rule of the jungle. He called upon the Attorney-General to seriously investigate all abductions, and to prosecute the perpetrators.
Weshah also called upon all international journalists and guests to continue working in the OPT, noting that the Palestinian people as a whole condemn these abductions that are perpetrated by criminals aiming to achieve narrow personal gains over the broader national interests.
In addition, Weshah paid tribute to Johnston’s brave work in covering IOF crimes and violations against Palestinians. He apologized to Johnston’s family, friends, and colleagues for this crime.
Suad Hijjo, coordinator for civil society organizations in Khan Yunis and Rafah, condemned the abduction, and called upon the PNA and its security forces to work to ensure Johnston’s release.
The BBC Middle East Director Simon Rylson thanked civil society in Khan Yunis and Rafah. He also reminded that Johnston remains kidnapped since 15 days. He pointed that his family and colleagues are concerned, and that there is no information about him. And on behalf of Johnston’s family, Rylson thanked the organizers of the solidarity event and other events. He expressed hope that Johnston would be released soon. Finally he stated that solidarity events are effective in lobbying and pressuring for the release of the abducted journalist.
In a statement distributed at the event, civil society organizations in Rafah and Khan Yunis called upon all political parties and on the Palestinian people as a whole to condemn abductions of internationals, and to work to isolate the perpetrators. They called upon the government to fulfill its responsibility of pursuing the perpetrators and bring them to justice. The statement reminded the abductors that Johnston was a friend of Rachel Corrie, the American solidarity activist, who was killed by IOF in Rafah as she tried to defend Palestinian homes from destruction.
The participants formed a human ring around the PLC building in Gaza City to remind its members of their responsibility towards Alan Johnston.