02 August 2012
IFJ Condemns Hamas Meddling in Gaza Journalists' Affairs
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today accused Hamas security forces of harassing elected officials of the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate (PJS) in Gaza. In a letter to Ismael Haniyeh, Prime Minister in the Hamas government, the IFJ President said that journalists' leaders in Gaza have been subjected to a campaign of intimidation and threats designed to force them to stop their union work. Some of them are now facing charges of illegal activities and a travel ban after they refused to give in to pressure.
"We consider the accusations against our colleagues of illegal activity and theft of the union identity a malicious accusation which should be dropped immediately," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha in his letter. "They should be allowed to work without restrictions and the travel ban imposed on them must be lifted."
The IFJ says that the campaign against the PJS board members in the Gaza strip started in March, after their election. It included the raid organised by supporters of Hamas who took over the PJS offices in Gaza with the help of security forces and evicted the staff and elected officials.
The harassment has recently escalated in targeting of individual members who were bullied into stopping union work. According to PJS, its Vice President Tahseen Al Astal and a colleague are being investigated by Hamas Attorney General and have been banned from travelling. The investigation was launched shortly after the two officials defied the order to cease their activities in the union, the PJS says.
The IFJ backs the PJS, calling on Prime Minister Haniyeh to intervene and stop his officials' unwarranted interference in journalists' affairs.
"The IFJ and its members all over the world cherish their independence from all forms of influence, including political influence," added Boumelha. "We applaud the PJS' rejection of outside control and urge you to stop these bogus charges against the union's leaders who haven't broken any law."
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries