The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and journalists across the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip today demanded the immediate release of Peruvian photographer Jaime Razuri, kidnapped in Gaza on Monday. “Free him now and stop this cat-and-mouse intimidation of journalists and media staff,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.
The IFJ says kidnapping of journalists, which has been a feature of tactics used by political extremists, only damages the Palestinian cause.
Razuri, a 50-year-old Peruvian national working for Agence France-Presse (AFP), was abducted by gunmen on 1 January as he was about to enter his office in Gaza.
“This is the latest in a string of kidnappings that shows that journalists in the region are extremely vulnerable to attacks by militant groups,” said White. “But is a strategy that alienates media people and reflects badly on the Palestinian cause, which is why Palestinian journalists are angry.”
The IFJ Palestinian affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, held a demonstration in front of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza today. About 70 journalists participated with signs that said “Freedom of the Press” and “Freedom for our Colleague.”
The IFJ says all of its member unions are pressing for Razuri’s release, including its Peruvian member, the Asociacion Nacional de Periodistas del Peru, which has warned that Razuri’s health could be threatened by a heart condition that he treats with medication. The interruption of that treatment could be fatal.
In October, an Associated Press photographer was abducted by Palestinian gunmen and freed later that same day. In August, two Fox News journalists were kidnapped and held for two weeks before being released.
“Taking journalists or other media staff hostage is a frightening and intolerable form of intimidation that not only threaten press freedom and the lives of innocent civilians, but also does incalculable harm to the Palestinian cause and the democratic aspirations of all people in the region,” White said.
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries worldwide.