From International Federation of Journalists.
May 11, 2022
Brussels 11 May 2022 – Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead by the Israeli army while covering a raid in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin early on May 11. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly condemned this latest targeted killing of a Palestinian media worker and has pledged to add the murder to the case lodged at the International Criminal Court (ICC) which details the systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists.
Abu Akleh was one of Al Jazeera’s first field correspondents, joining the network in 1997. She was hit by a bullet while covering Israeli raids in the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank.
After being shot, she was taken to hospital in a critical condition and died soon afterward, the Palestinian Health Ministry and Al Jazeera journalists said.
The Israeli army attributed her death to fire from Palestinian forces in a clash with Israeli soldiers. However, Al Jazeera’s Ramallah bureau chief Walid al-Omary said there had been no shooting by Palestinian gunmen.
The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) said that this crime was “deliberate and planned to assasinate her“.
“There are a few testimonies from the journalists who were with her when she was killed, saying that they were moving as a group, all wearing journalists’ gear and clearly identified when they were shot at by Israeli snipers, they were the only group in the street. There were no demonstrators or exchange of fire“, the union said in a statement.
Videos of the attack show that Abu Akleh was shot in the head, said Al Jazeera’s journalist Nida Ibrahim.
“What we know for now is that the Palestinian health ministry has announced her death. Shireen Abu Akleh, was covering events unfolding in Jenin, specifically an Israeli incursion into the city, which is in the north of the occupied West Bank, when she was hit by a bullet in the head,” said Ibrahim, speaking from the Palestinian city of Ramallah. “As you can imagine, this is a shock for the journalists who have been working with her.” She was a “highly respected journalist“, she added.
Al Jazeera producer, Ali Samoudi, was also shot in the back with a live bullet. Samoudi is reported to be in stable condition.
Giles Trendle, managing director of Al Jazeera English, said the network was “shocked and saddened” by the death of Shireen Abu Akleh and called for a transparent investigation into her murder.
“As journalists, we move on. Our mission is to move forward. We will not be silenced despite attempts to silence us,” Trendle said. “Our mission is to continue to inform the world of what is happening. And that is more important than ever“.
The IFJ has recently submitted a case to the International Criminal Court (ICC) alleging that Israel’s systematic targeting of journalists working in Palestine and its failure to properly investigate killings of media workers amount to war crimes.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “While the full details of this horrific murder are still emerging, testimony from journalists who were with her when she was killed point towards this being another deliberate and systematic targeting of a journalist. Yet again journalists, wearing press vests, clearly identified were targeted by Israeli snipers. They were not alongside demonstrators, they were not a threat – they have been targeted to prevent them bearing witness and telling the truth about the Israeli action in Jenin.
“We will seek to add this case to the ICC complaint submitted by the IFJ, detailing such systematic targeting. If we demand justice for the Russian targeting of Ukrainian journalists we must demand an end to, and justice for, Israeli targeting and killings of Palestinian journalists”.
Also from IFJ, May 11, 2022
Ukraine: Belarusian journalist assaulted and tortured
Brussels 11 May 2022 – The wife of Belarusian journalist Denis Staji who was assaulted and tortured by unknown persons in Ukraine last month, has spoken out about the attack against him. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly condemned the attack and have urged the authorities to take immediate steps to investigate the case and bring those responsible to justice.
Denis Staji had moved to Ukraine in 2018 and contributed to the Ukrainian news websites EnergoBusiness and Delovaya Stolitsa. His wife, Victoria Lavnikevich, and son were on a two-week trip to western Ukraine when they lost contact with Staji on 9 April. After three days, Lavnikevych returned to Kiyv and found him in their flat, unconscious and wrapped in rubbish bags, with signs of abuse all over his body. She explained. “It was very difficult to remain silent about what happened for several weeks. I was asked very much in the interests of the investigation not to publish this information earlier. Now, finally, I can do it”, she added.
In photos Lavnikevich posted on social media, Staji can be seen with deep bruises on his arms, torso and feet, and lacerations on his back, ribs and buttocks.
“Judging by his condition, he was tortured and beaten for several days in a row. He was wrapped in rubbish bags, with a blanket over his head, his mouth full of dirt and a clear mark of handcuffs on his wrists. He was especially beaten on his head, ribs, kidneys, arms, legs and toes. There were knife cuts: on the ribs, back, buttocks”, Lavnikevych said.
After finding him, he was taken to hospital and the doctor said that he had been poisoned by an unknown substance, but after two days it was not possible to establish its composition. It caused severe damage to the nervous system and half of the lungs. Staji was forced to drink a mixture of alcohol with barboval and septil, and that he was probably injected with methadone or scopolamine, according to his wife. She found a needle from a syringe with traces of an unknown liquid in the rubbish bin, alongside used cotton wool.
Lavnikevych noted that the flat was destroyed, but no valuables or money were missing. “This suggests that the main purpose of the attack was not theft: the information is missing. There is reason to believe that one of the tasks of the attack was to take control of the Telegram channels and chats that we created for Belarusians in Ukraine, which we stopped moderating last autumn because of threats, and which we were forced to moderate again because of the war in Ukraine. The second task was to physically eliminate Denis after receiving the necessary information”, she said.
She claims that the reason for the attack could be Staji’s launch over the past few years of a large network of Telegram channels and chats for Belarusians in Ukraine, which began with the channel “Adventures of Belarusians in Kiev”. This network has become the largest media outlet covering the Belarusian diaspora in Ukraine, says Lavnikevych.
Recently, two activists in Belarus have been eliminated in a completely identical manner.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “We strongly condemn this clear act of intimidation and torture against Denis Staji. We call on the authorities to take urgent steps to investigate the case and punish those responsible”.