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IFJ Urges Unity and Fresh Start for Journalists in Palestine

March 26, 2009

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) called today on the Palestinian media to stand up and unite for their profession and said it was ready to support fresh efforts for better relations with political leaders to ensure more protection for journalists and much needed reform within the media sector.

The IFJ call comes after the latest visit of the IFJ to the Gaza strip at the weekend when IFJ General Secretary Aidan White met with the families of journalists killed during the recent war in Gaza.

White told the families of four Palestinian journalists who died, "We have to make sure that these tragedies are never repeated. Media workers must be able to cover the news without fear of being attacked."

He called for fresh dialogue with political leaders in Gaza and said that comments by the Hamas government accusing the IFJ of making false statements were based on a misunderstanding. "We are accused of saying the Hamas government stole money sent to support Palestinian journalists," he sad. "But this is simply not true. We have never said such a thing."

He said the IFJ was ready to work with anyone or any group ready to support the unity of Palestinian journalists, their independence and their safety. "The future of organizing Palestinian journalists is a matter for Palestinian journalists themselves and they should be left to freely decide how they want to do it."

The IFJ has also called on the Hamas government to facilitate the travel of a group of Palestinian journalists to Egypt to participate in professional safety training organized by the IFJ, the International News Safety Institute and the Federation of Arab Journalists.

White also appealed for a lifting of the pressure on journalist Sakher Abu El Oun, a Palestine Journalists' Syndicate representative in Gaza after his passport and ID card were taken from him on Saturday by the ministry of interior.

"It's time for a fresh start," said White. "Journalists must be able to attend much-needed safety training and there should be no interference in efforts to unify the journalists' movement - these are the essential starting points for a constructive dialogue."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide.

For more information contact:
International Federation of Journalists
Phone: + 32 2 235 2207

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