Dozens of Palestinian journalists in Gaza protested Sunday against the abduction and confinement of BBC reporter Alan Johnston for the second week consecutively.
The protest was held in a sit-in tent in the Unknown Soldier’s square in Gaza city, where scores of journalists and representatives of NGOs and Palestinian factions bid sympathy to Johnston, who has been taken hostage by unknown gunmen.
The BBC’s Middle East bureau chief, Samuel Jhonson, spoke to attendants, voicing concern over the fate of the BBC hostage. He expressed appreciation for the sympathy of Palestinians with Johnston.
“We know that everybody is working, we know how much Alan meant to Gaza, as we received messages of support”, Jhonson told reporters. He maintained that so far, the BBC has not received any information as to the whereabouts of the abducted reporter.
“We have no information, lets keep working. Two weeks now is too long for Alan to be away from his family”. Shuhdi Alkashef, of the journalists committee confirmed that journalists cannot stand idle, facing such a situation. He was quoted as saying “Enough for this PA and the security bodies; its shameful for the government that Alan is still hostage”.
“We will step up our protest, even if we start a hunger strike, just for the sake of Alan”, Alkashef said to participants in the protest. He called on the Palestinian presidency, the cabinet and the general prosecutor to shoulder their responsibilities until the truth is unveiled.
From her part, Maryam Abu Daqa, spokeswoman for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), told reporters that this sit-in protest is a part of a series of protests against current security lapses in Gaza. She called for the end of gun battles in Gaza streets, voicing the belief that the abduction of Alan Johnston only serves the enemies of the Palestinian people.
Mohsen Abu Ramadan of the network of NGOs in Gaza, demanded that the Palestinian Legislative Council takes practical steps by at least suspending a session of its own for the protest of such chaos. He also called for ensuring support and protection for international journalists working in Gaza, confirming that they would continue their sit-in until Alan is released.
Alan Jhonston, the BBC’s reporter in Gaza, was kidnapped by unknown gunmen two weeks ago. No information is yet available about his whereabouts, or the identity or destination of his kidnappers.
Alan has been staying in Gaza over the past three years, reporting for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), despite internal unrest across the Gaza Strip. The abduction of Alan is the twenty-eighth in three years. A total of 55 international journalists or workers have been kidnapped and then released unharmed, according to the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights.