World Press Freedom Day 2018: A Bleak Picture

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03 May 2018

Today, 3 May 2018, on the occasion of International World Press Freedom Day, freedom of thought and expression remain a constrained phenomena in the occupied Palestinian territory.

While events are taking place around the world to commemorate the day, 26 journalists currently sit in occupation jails, a poet has been convicted of incitement in an Israeli court, and the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) ‘Electronic Crimes Law’ remains a utilized piece of legislation.

Bushra Taweel, journalist and spokesperson for Aneen al-Qaid Network, remains under administrative detention after she was arrested in November 2017; as does Nidal Abu Aker, who hosted a radio show about the prisoner issue on the Sawt al Waheda station. Having been held under administrative detention on multiple occasions, Nidal’s current detainment has been ongoing since August 2016.

The situation is not much better for those Palestinians who hold citizenship from the occupying state. Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour was today convicted of ‘incitement to terrorism’ and ‘support for terror organizations’ after she published a number of poems on social media.

As for the ‘Electronic Crimes Law’, the majority of charges brought against journalists by the PA last year remain on the books without any progress in their cases. Additionally, Ahmad Awartani has remained in Jericho prison since his arrest on the 22 April for a Facebook post.

Finally, the continued instances of occupation forces firing on individuals clearly marked as journalists in Gaza constitutes a severe violation of the special status afforded to the press.

For the whole of historical Palestine, the cause of press freedom looks bleak. For those who wield power, the one thing more dangerous that a material challenger is those who can propagate a resistance of consciousness. This is the exact role that a free press plays. It allows people to understand their political situation and, therefore, to chart a path forward. By inhibiting the freedom of press, not only is the freedom of expression stifled but so is freedom of thought. For without having a clear grasp on the reality, how can one begin to change it.

Addameer calls on both the occupying state and the Palestinian Authority to abide by their obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to allow for freedom of expression and thought.