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Gaza rally demands freedom for journalists held by PA

April 4, 2012 7:01 P.M. (Updated: April 5, 2012 9:32 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Palestinian reporters called Wednesday for the government in the West Bank to stop arresting and prosecuting journalists, after four people were arrested in one week.

The sit-in in Gaza City was organized by the Palestinian media forum, which represents journalists in Gaza.

The head of the forum, Imad al-Ifranji, said that "we sit in to demand the release of the journalists detained in the PA’s jails. They are: Yousef al-Shayeb, Ismat Abdul Khaliq and Tareq Khamis."

Al-Ifranji added: "Let the whole world witness that we as journalists will not be silent against anyone who is corrupt and who gave up the Palestinian people’s rights."

Detaining journalists is a "moral and national crime," another demonstrator said.

Govt defends record

The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, has affirmed its respect for freedom of speech and the press, but called on journalists to maintain "professional standards" on public affairs issues.

Ministers met for their regular cabinet meeting in Ramallah Tuesday and insisted the PA would protect journalists' right to work freely.

"The Cabinet affirmed its respect and protection of freedom of speech and the press, and that the government continues to protect journalists' rights to work freely," a summary of the meeting said.

The ministers also called upon journalists "to maintain professional standards particularly on public affairs issues."

CPJ condemns

The Committee to Protect Journalists on Wednesday condemned the PA's arrests.

"It is ironic that Palestinian leaders, who for years have benefited from independent media coverage, should now try to stifle their own critical journalists," said CPJ deputy director Robert Mahoney in a statement.

"The Palestinian Authority should stop muzzling journalists and scouring social media posts looking for critics to punish."

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