Ref: 17/2007

Date: 25 March  2007


In Coordination with Civil Society Organizations:

PCHR Organizes a Solidarity Rally for Alan Johnston

PCHR and civil society organizations in KhanYunis organized a public rally today in city to protest the continued abduction of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston. The Rally was held opposite the Khan Yunis Governorate Building. Dozens of representatives from political parties, women’s organizations, journalists, and human rights organizations participated.

Abdel Halim Abu Samra, the Center’s Public Relations Officer in Khan Yunis, addressed the rally saying that it is an effort to raise the voice of civil society against kidnapping crimes against journalists and internationals, and against all crimes that tarnish the just struggle of the Palestinian people. He stressed the importance of cooperation between all parties to secure Johnston’s release.

PCHR’s deputy director, Jaber Weshah, expressed the Center’s solidarity with Johnston, whom he described as a friend of the Palestinian people. Weshah commended Johnston’s professionalism and objectivity in covering news from Palestine.

Ibrahim Qannan, the spokesman of journalists in Khan Yunis condemned Johnston’s abduction. He stated that it is a crime not only against freedom of expression and journalism, but also a personal attack on a person who is brave, independent, and objective in covering events.

PCHR’s director, Raji Sourani, demanded Johnston’s release and an end to the series of abductions against internationals and journalists. He also demanded legal action against the perpetrators of these crimes that tarnish the image of the Palestinian people. Sourani also expressed the outrage of civil society organizations over the indifference of security forces in securing Johnston’s release. He also pointed the civil society’s concern over the way the PNA handles these crimes. Finally, Sourani called for imposing order and enforcing the rule of law to put an end to all forms of security chaos, and to restore order and security to normal citizens.

The director of the BBC office in Gaza, Fayed Abu Shamala, commended Johnston’s objectivity and bravery in covering news events. He called upon all parties involved to work seriously to secure Johnston’s release, as he has been abducted for 15 days.

The Governor of Khan Yunis, Osama El-Farra, said that the rally is a form of condemnation of Johnston’s kidnapping, which violates the values of the Palestinian people. He stated that this

abduction harms the Palestinian people. Further, he called for the immediate release of the journalist, and for prosecuting the perpetrators.

At the end of the rally, Jaber Weshah handed Fayed Abu Shamala a letter on behalf of civil society organizations expressing their concern over Johnston’s abduction, and their wishes for his safe return to his family. In addition, Suad Hijjo, the director of the civil society coordinating committee in Khan Yunis, submitted a letter to the Khan Yunis governor to be raised to President Abbas, expressing concern over the continuation of abductions and the failure of security forces to act against these crimes.

It is noted that PCHR plans to continue solidarity action with Alan Johnston, and will hold a rally on Monday (26 March 2007) in Gaza City.