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Journalists strike against attacks in violation of freedom of speech

     ‎“Dozens of journalists held a sit-down ‎strike in front of the PA Presidential ‎Headquarters in Ramallah, to protest the ‎arrest of and attacks on journalists by the ‎Security Forces in recent days, and ‎demanded that the government officially ‎condemn the attacks and to act to prevent ‎their recurrence. ‎

In a letter delivered to the prime minister ‎as well as on placards displayed during ‎the sit-down strike, the sit-down strikers ‎called for the cessation of what [they] ‎described as the suppression of freedoms ‎and the silencing, arrest and persecution ‎of journalists, while others called for ‎respecting and strengthening freedom of ‎the press and freedom of speech and ‎opinion.‎

The sit-down strike came in response to ‎the arrest of George Kanawati, director of ‎the Bethlehem 2000 radio station, and ‎Sami ‎ Al-Sa'i, a correspondent for the ‎Wattan News Agency in Tulkarem by the ‎Security Forces, in addition to what was ‎termed the persecution and summoning ‎for questioning of journalists, which had ‎stoked the journalists’ anger and drawn ‎their condemnation.‎

The sit-down strikers delivered a letter to ‎Government Spokesman Dr. Ehab ‎Bessaiso addressed to the President ‎‎[Mahmoud Abbas], in which they ‎demanded that the government form a ‎committee to investigate the matter of the ‎assault and arrest of Kanawati and to ‎clarify the reasons behind Al-Sa'i’s’ arrest. ‎In addition, they demanded that a ‎message be directed to the Minister of ‎Interior [Sa’id Abu Ali], demanding the ‎cessation of the arrests of journalists and ‎the policy of summoning them for ‎interrogation, and to set a limit to the ‎violations of the Prime Minister’s Guard ‎during [media] coverage of events.‎

‎[PA] Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah ‎asserted his pledge to [support] freedom of ‎the press and journalism in Palestine, and ‎‎[said] the government would investigate ‎the issue of the sit-down strike and ‎examine all of the journalists’ demands. In ‎addition, he promised to demand ‎accountability from those involved, in the ‎event proof was found that violations had ‎been committed.” ‎