World Press Freedom Day 2011
Solidarity with Journalists on the Frontine of Arab Spring
Solidarity meeting at the Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate at headquarters in honour of deceased journalist Raoufa Hasan, Jamal Al Sharabi who was killed in March by government forces, and Abd El Elah Shaie who has been in jail since last summer serving 5 years sentence.
World Press freedom day 2011 comes at a crucial time in the life of people in the Arab World, which will determine their immediate future and the future of generations to come.
To mark May 3rd, the IFJ affiliates in the Arab region are showing solidarity with their colleagues working on the frontline, covering the revolutions and uprisings taking place in many countries across the region. In recognition of the courage and professionalism of these journalists, many of whom have died, been injured or are jailed, Arab journalists' unions are gathering behind one banner: In Solidarity with Journalists on the Frontline of the Arab Spring.
"Our unions and their members in the region are playing a major role in the seismic shift that is shaking the region and have become key players in the fight for democracy, individual freedom, justice and human rights", said IFJ president Jim Boumelha.
"Today we have the best conditions for these unions and their members to start challenging their governments to meet their obligations to guarantee citizens the right to free expression and access to information by reforming media laws and creating genuinely pluralist and professional structures for media and journalism dedicated to public service values. Our mobilisation of journalists in the region on press freedom day is a tremendous start to forging a new solidarity among journalists to reinvigorate their profession and mission and setting an agenda for change that will advance them and radically reform journalism."
The campaign was adopted in a regional meeting organised in Casablanca on 12-14 April, during which Arab unions observed a minute of silence and mourning in memory of the eight journalists killed in the region since the beginning of 2011 (now ten) while reporting the revolutions and popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Syria (see list below).
Immediate release of all journalists currently jailed in the region for doing their job was demanded along with the introduction of radical reforms to the laws starting with the abolition of laws that include imprisonment of journalists (see list below)
Arab unions say that the time has come for true and deep reform to ensure journalists' safety, independence of the media and a legal environment protective of freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and human rights.
In the occasion of May 3rd, a number of Arab unions are organizing activities centered around the regional campaign ‘In Solidarity with Journalists on the Frontline of the Arab Spring':
- The Iraqi Journalists' Syndicate (IJS) is organizing a major event in Baghdad, having invited all media and their journalists to join. IFJ president has sent a letter to address the meeting in this occasion that was attended by more than a 1000 participants.
IJS meeting in Baghdad, May 3rd 2011
- The Mauritanian Syndicate of Journalists (SJM) organised a conference on May 3rd around the regional campaign, and on the 4th, the SJM press freedom prize ceremony, with the participation of Mohamed Val Ould Dine, al-Jazeera journalist who was detained in Libya.
SJM conference on May 3rd.
- The Yemeni Journalists' Syndicate (YJS) organized on Monday, ahead of May 3rd, a ceremony in its premises around the regional campaign. It commemorated Raoufa Hasan, a leading woman jouranalist and activist who died last week form illness, Jamal Al Sharabi who was killed in March by government forces, and Abd El Elah Shaie who has been in jail since last summer serving 5 years sentence. Journalists' families participated to this event, that discussed challenges and attacks facing journalists in Yemen, and called on state-owned media to refrain from supporting or justifying the regime's crimes.
YJS Press Freedom Day ceremony and commemorations May 2nd 2011.
- The Sudanese Journalists' Union (SJU): celebrated May 3rd through a series of activities including the launch of its yearly press freedom review, a minute of silence in honor of the victims of the profession in Sudan and in the Arab world frontlines, a joint seminar with the Lawyers' Bar, and exhibitions of journalistic cartoons and photography and their Awards ceremony.
SJU journalistic cartoons and photos exposition, May 3rd 2011
- The Journalists' Union at the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) is organizing a stand carrying the banner of the campaign in front of the building of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union.
Unions in Oman (OJA), Palestine (PJS), Kuwait (KJA), Morocco (SNPM) and Iraqi Kurdistan (KJS) have included the regional action in their programme of activities.
- In Morocco, the SNPM launched on Monday 2nd its yearly press freedom report in a conference organised in Rabat that discussed trends of media freedom in Morocco and the action of the syndicate in this field. On May 3rd, it organised a number of meetings with the media including national TV and various radios, to discuss the report, national and IFJ regional solidarity campaigns.
Press conference at the SNPM – 2nd May 2011 (photo Idrisi Mohsin)
- In Tunisia, the SNJT launched its press freedom report in a national event jointly organised with the UNESCO under the theme 21st Century's Media at the service of Democracy.
- In Palestine, the PJS has issued a statement stressing on its attachment to press freedom, and international laws guaranteeing it, condemning attacks against the journalists' rights it monitored throughout the year. It is organizing today May 4th, a ceremony awarding Palestine Journalism prizes.
PJS Press Freedom event and Palestine Journalism Awards Ceremony 4 May 2011
- In Somalia, NUSOJ organised a celebrations event in Bossasso, Puntland, that honoured journalists who paid heavy price for the cause of press freedom in Somalia, discussed ways to improve the relationship between journalists and Puntland authorities and called for an end to the use of Penal code and terrorism laws against journalists.
NUSOJ Celebration of May 3rd 2011
Journalists killed since the beginning of 2011 in the Arab region.
1. Lucas Dolega - French - killed in Tunisia
2. Ahmed Mahmoud - Egypt
3. Jamal Al Charabi - Yemen.
4. Ali Jaber - Qatar - killed in Libya
5. Mohammed Nabos - Libya
6. Hilal AlAhmadi - Iraq
7. Sabah El Bazi - Iraq
8. Taha Aaloui - Iraq
9. Tim Hetherington - killed in Libya
10. Chris Hondros - killed in Libya
Journalists currently detained and imprisoned in Arab prisons
- Journalists detained in Libya
Kamel al Talou' (Libya / UK) - Al Jazeera
Lotfi Ghars (Tunisia / CAD) - Al Alam
Matthew Van Dyke / freelance journalist (US) - Kurdish Globe
James Foley (U.S.) - Global Post
Claire Morgana (U.S.) - The Atlantic
Manu Brabo (Spanish) - freelance cameraman.
Anton Hammerl (South Africa), photographer,
The media also reports dozens of Libyan Journalists detained in Libyan prisons
- Journalist detained in Syria
Mohammed Zaid Mesto (Syria / Norway)
Mohib El Nawati (Palestine / Norway)
Dorothy Parvaz, - Al Jazeera (American, Canadian, Iranian)
- Journalists detained in Yemen
Abdullah Haidar elShaie ' - Saba News Agency
- Journalists detained in Bahrain
Faisal Hayyat - Al Bilad
Haider Mohammad - Al Wasat
Ali Jawad - Al Bilad
- Journalist detained in Morocco
Rachid Nini, Al Massae Newspaper