03.05.2011 - UNESCO Office in Ramallah

Palestinian journalists celebrate World Press Freedom Day

On the 3rd of May 2011, journalists across the world celebrated the World Press Freedom day. The theme of this year is ‘21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers’.

For Palestinian journalists, 2011 marked an increase in obstacles and violations against them. According to a 2010 report by Reporters Without Bordersthe occupied Palestinian territory ranked 150 out of 178 countries on a press freedom index. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate counted 280 violations of journalists’ rights during the past year, 179 of which were by Israeli forces and settlers while the other 101 were by security forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip?

In Gaza City on the 3rd May, MADA (Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms) hosted its ‘Awards for Freedom of Expression’ ceremony, which recognised the outstanding achievements of four Palestinian journalists. Majed Abu Salama is one of them, and despite being the youngest this is the second time he has received an award for his work: “I’m very proud to have won an international prize before, but of course winning a Palestinian award means a lot more, and will give me responsibilities which I’m ready to bear”, says the 26-year old. The same ceremony was organized in Ramallah that day, and since the 14th of April, MADA has been broadcasting radio and video clips promoting the Freedom of Expression, and creating posters put out in Ramallah and Bethlehem.

At the same time in the West Bank, the Prime Minister Salam Fayyad exhorted journalists at a Ramallah event to be free of “self-censorship”.

The UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize has been awarded to journalists since 1997. This year’s winner was Ahmad Zeidabadi, an Iranian journalist, famous for his fight for the freedom of expression and human rights. He was sentenced in November 2009 to five years’ imprisonment followed by five years internal exile, and banned for life from practicing his profession as a journalist.

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