In Issue 539 of Al-Resala Newspaper dated 18 October 2007, the newspaper published an interview with Raji Sourani, PCHR’s Director. Regrettably, the published material was selective in a manner that infringed upon Sourani and PCHR. It was clear that expressions were selected out of context, depriving them of their intended meaning.
As a result, Sourani sent a letter dated 22 October 2007 to Dr. Jawad El-Dalou, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper, replying to the published materials. Sourani demanded that this reply be published in the newspaper in exercise of his legal right.
The text of the letter sent to the newspaper is below:
22 October 2007
Dr. Jawad El-Dalou
Dear Dr. El-Dalou,
Exercising my right to reply under Article 25 of the Publications Law No. 9 for the Year 1995, I kindly ask you to publish the following reply in the next issue of Al-Resala Newspaper. This reply comes in response to what was published in pages 1 and 8 of issue 539 of Al-Resala Newspaper distributed on 18 October 2007, under the title of “In an Interview with the Director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Sourani: No One can Deny the State of Security Prevailing in the Gaza Strip.” I kindly ask that this reply is published in same place and same font in which the interview was published, also in line with Article 25 of the previously mentioned Publications Law.
1- There is selectiveness in the letter and spirit of the interview. It is clear that some statements were selected out of context, which made them devoid of their intended meaning and implications.
2- The way in which certain issues were highlighted at the expense of others, starting with the title and the content, reflect a politicization of the interview and using it for political reasons. This constitutes an infringement on me personally and on the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and human rights organizations in general.
3- Human rights organizations do not have a roll of providing “good conduct” certificates to any political party. It is unacceptable to use or manipulate what these organizations issue for this purpose.
4- Human rights organizations are independent and professional organizations; and they will not glorify any authority. On the contrary, the role of human rights organizations is to confront force with “right,” and to say the truth in the face of an unjust ruler. The core of these organizations’ work is to protect human rights under any and all circumstances, and to shed light on human rights violations regardless of the identity of the perpetrators without any political motives or interests.
5- We always believe that there should be an integral relationship between the media and human rights organizations. We hope that the media will contribute to protecting human rights by publishing the outputs of human rights organizations or portraying their reservations; but not for the media to use human rights organizations for political reasons.
6- We view Al-Resala Newspaper with distinction because PCHR bore with the implications of defending it in the most difficult circumstances, and confronting the arbitrary measures of the Palestinian National Authority against it. This was based on the principle of defending freedom of expression.
7- We view the interests of the newspaper and any political party in:
a. Understanding the outputs of human rights organizations and highlighting the criticisms directed to any party; and to work hand in hand with these organizations to promote human rights.
b. To work in line with their principles, and not to deviate their work for narrow political gains.
c. To preserve and uphold the independence and integrity of human rights organizations.
8- PCHR’s position is crystal clear regarding the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), especially the Gaza Strip. We are aware of the magnitude of the efforts exerted to enforce the rule of law and preserve public order after years of escalating security chaos. However, this does not explain the whole situation, and cannot be used to imply respect of human rights. Establishing order and security alone is not enough. There should be a careful balancing between the need for order on the one hand and respecting human rights and freedoms on the other. The Centre views this as the real challenge: how to establish order and protect human rights at the same time. The Centre totally rejects making security an excuse to sacrifice human rights and public freedoms. The Centre views correct entry to true security to be respecting and protecting human rights.