World Journalists Condemn Middle East Violence

Pledge of Support to Media Victims
Repudiation of Military Strikes Against "Propaganda"
Mission of Inquiry Over "Brutality Against Journalists"

The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalists' group, today issued a strong statement condemning attacks on journalists and media staff in Palestine.

In a declaration issued from Sydney, Australia, where the IFJ's international Executive Committee was meeting, the IFJ said that the recent outbreak of violence in the Middle East has "led to widespread abuse of human rights, indiscriminate killing and numerous acts of brutality against journalists and media staff."

The IFJ has called on all sides in the conflict to stop manipulating media to suit their own political interests.

The declaration continues: "The IFJ condemns all forms of pressure on journalists, which make it impossible for media to work professionally and which severely compromise the physical safety of staff.

"The IFJ repudiates attempts to intimidate and to manipulate media by all sides in the conflict as wholly unjustified assaults on press freedom." Targeting of media by one side or another has particularly incensed journalists. The IFJ attacked, in particular, military action against media installations by Israel.

The IFJ said: "We note that this has been done citing the precedent of the NATO bombing of Television Serbia in April 1999, itself a violation of international law. The IFJ does not accept that allegations of propaganda against one side or another justify the use of military force against media organisations or media staff."

According to reports from the region up to 30 journalists and media staff have been hurt in recent clashes and some have suffered serious injuries. One journalist has died as a result of his injuries. The IFJ is to organise an international appeal among its member organisations to raise funds to help the victims of violence.

The IFJ has also agreed to send a top-level mission to the region in the coming weeks to draw attention to the problems facing journalists.