Palestinian territories - Call for closed news media to be allowed to resume operating amid peace moves between Hamas and Fatah



    MONTREAL, June 10 /CNW Telbec/ - Welcoming recent statements by the
leaders of the two main Palestinian parties that have raised hopes of an end
to the conflict between them, Reporters Without Borders called today for the
news media that have been closed since the start of the clashes to be allowed
to resume operating.
    "No fewer that 17 news media have been forced to stop working since June
2007, when Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority
withdrew to the West Bank," the press freedom organisation said. "Many
journalists have been harassed during this period for working for a news
outlet affiliated to the opposing party. The use of the news media in this
political combat has made their employees more vulnerable throughout the
Palestinian Territories."
    Reporters Without Borders added: "The fratricidal struggle between Fatah
and Hamas that erupted nearly a year ago has had a dramatic impact on press
freedom. Palestinian journalists have been arrested arbitrarily and in some
cases held for weeks. All the Palestinian media must now be allowed to resume
operating with complete freedom."
    In a speech broadcast on 4 June, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas called for dialogue with Ismael Haniyeh, the ousted prime minister and
head of the Islamist party Fatah. Haniyeh agreed the next day in Gaza and
called for an end to the media smear campaigns. The pro-Hamas media
immediately stopped referring to the Palestinian Authority's security forces
as "Abbas's gangs" while the pro-Fatah media stopped referring to the
Executive Force in the Gaza Strip as a "Hamas militia."
    The headquarters of the state-owned Palestine Broadcasting Corporation
(PBC) in the Gaza Strip were closed down after the Hamas takeover and its
employees were forced to stop working. Similarly, the West Bank bureaux of the
Hamas TV station Al-Aqsa were also forced to close. The Abbas-controlled PBC
continues to broadcast from studios in the West Bank.
    Both the Palestinian Authority's security forces and the Hamas Executive
Force were included in the Reporters Without Borders list of "Predators of
Press Freedom" when the annual update was issued in May.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Secretary General,
Reporters sans frontières Canada, (514) 521 4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org;
www.rsfcanada.org

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