Earlier this month, the world celebrated World Press Freedom Day (3 May). Yet, many of our international colleagues were unable to participate, since their ability to report on news or opinion has been severely restricted or denied outright. The current situation in Palestine is a case in point, including the bombing of the building in Gaza that housed the Al Jazeera and AP news agency offices. This is a deliberate attempt to silence the media covering the events happening in Palestine. Independent Media outright denounces this action.
The Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) has already noted a drastic increase in the number of violations against media freedoms. (According to the Palestine Journalists Syndicate, more than 600 cases of journalist rights violations were recorded in 2020).
As peace in the region is unlikely to be established any time soon, this number is expected to climb, which is why Independent Media is standing up with colleagues around the world and condemning these attacks. Independent Media also calls on authorities to take the necessary steps to end the systematic targeting of all media.
“What is happening in Palestine at present is reminiscent of apartheid South Africa,” observed Dr Iqbal Survé, Executive Chairman of Independent Media. “Freedom of expression and opinion and reportage on the situation at hand is under fire. Much like what happened here pre-1994, journalists are being prevented from covering what is happening on the ground and thus from informing not only their own citizens but the world at large. Reporters are being detained, shot, jailed and in some cases, even tortured.
“A constraint on information in this digital age is tantamount to plunging the region into the Dark Ages. The media are a vital link for citizens and the world to be informed, as it is only in having knowledge that change is able to occur – everywhere around the world, not just in Palestine.”
Media freedom is essential to telling all sides of the story to afford everyone the ability to make up their own minds about any given issue. It sounds so simple, but it is far from easy to achieve. Yet, as media, we must continue to strive to share different perspectives to as broad an audience as possible.
Independent Media stands strong in solidarity with all journalists for the right for each reporter to have access to information, convey all sides of a given story, and without the fear of being cast into prison or being killed just for doing their job. We lend our support to every reporter, photographer, and camera crew, as well as the men and women on the ground, who are putting their lives on the line to ensure that some form of coverage is conveyed to the rest of the world.
We call on our colleagues here in South Africa, to unite and join us in saying no to media oppression and yes to freedom of the press.