Yesterday, the 10th of December marked the 63rd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly in the same year as the Palestinian Nakba, when approximately 700,000 Palestinians where expelled from their homes; the Palestinians continue to suffer the denial of their most basic and fundamental rights, including the right to freedom of expression and opinion.
We at the Palestinian center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) hoped that this year would see a notable improvement in media freedoms in Palestine, however current statistics for 2011 suggest the contrary. Israeli soldiers and settlers continued their attacks against freedom of expression, targeting journalists in the line of duty and often causing injury and a serious threat to their lives.
Despite the escalation of violations by Palestinian security services in the first half of this year, a marked decline in violations was seen following the signing of the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah in May 2011. These improvements have however ebbed, with gross violations monitored in the Gaza Strip during November.
The Arab Spring that inspired millions to go onto the streets to express themselves and demand their human, political, economic and social rights, received positive reactions from the international community with widespread condemnation of state repression and violence against demonstrators and freedom of the press . The international community has of yet however, failed to apply the same principles to the Palestinian situation and continues to turn a blind eye to the violence and oppression committed by the state of Israel and its settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and its continued brutal siege of the Gaza Strip. Israeli occupation authorities continue to act with impunity, committing repeated violations against press freedoms and ignoring the legitimacy of international laws, UN resolutions and legal recommendations.
MADA wishes to emphasise that the international community must abandon its double standards in dealing with Palestinian case, and demand that all relevant bodies perform their duty towards the Palestinian people and compel Israel to comply with all laws and international conventions including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly Article 19 which guarantees the right to freedom of expression