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Affidavit No. 6055/2011

Sworn Statement

After having been warned to tell the truth and nothing but the truth or else I shall be subjected to penal action, I, the undersigned, Mamdouh Mahmoud Muhammad Hamamra, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 920278124, born on 24 May 1984, a press correspondent, and a resident of Husan village, Bethlehem governorate, would like to declare the following:

Since the end of 2008, I have been working as a correspondent at al-Quds TV channel in the southern areas of the West Bank. The channel is contracted by the PAL MEDIA agency and is certified to work in the West Bank.

At 10:45 am on Monday, 7 February 2011, I and my colleague ‘Abd-al- Ghani al-Natsha, a 29- year-old cameraman, were preparing a reportage about a sit-in demonstration organised by school teachers who were on strike in front of the Ministry of Education District Office in Bethlehem city. As we were documenting the sit-in, two individuals dressed in civilian clothes approached us and introduced themselves as Palestinian Preventative Security (PPS) officers. They demanded that we suspend our work and accompany them to the PPS headquarters. I was taken to a car, which a PPS officer drove. The other officer got into another car and accompanied my colleague ‘Abd-al-Ghani. The two cars moved to the PPS headquarters in Bethlehem. There, I was isolated from the cameraman and was forced to wait for about half an hour in a corridor which overlooked the entrance of the building. A while later, I saw my colleague the cameraman leave the PPS headquarters. I was then taken to an interrogation room where I was questioned by an interrogator who is probably in his fifties. He inquired about the footage I was taking earlier, my work with al-Quds channel and about the channel’s work in the West Bank in general. He accused the channel of incitement and sedition [against the government]. I answered that I take no responsibility for the general policy of the channel and that I only take responsibility for my personal work and the reports I write. The interrogation session lasted for about 15 minutes. I was then forced to wait back in the corridor for more than an hour, after which, I was taken to another interrogation room where the same interrogator questioned me once again.

“I promise that we will arrest you each time we see you work for this channel in Bethlehem.” He said. “I advise that you start looking for another job.” He went on.

The interrogator claimed that the channel was illegal and unlicensed to operate in the West Bank. I demanded that he provide me with official documents to prove his statements, but he said that he did not have any. The interrogation session lasted for more than 15 minutes, after which, I was taken out to the corridor where I waited again for about half an hour before I was brought back into the interrogation room. The same interrogator demanded that I sign on a
pledge, stating that I would not breach public order, respect the law and not work with any illegal or unofficial channel in the West Bank. I signed and was released at around 2:00 pm. After I was released, the cameraman told me that the camera was examined along with the footage taken near the Ministry of Education District Office and that the PPS officers released him afterwards.

What I understood during the interview with the officer at the PPS headquarters was that they wanted to suspend my work without any legal justification. I am worried about the way media representatives are being treated by Palestinian security agencies and how they are being prevented from carrying out their journalistic work freely as enshrined by international and domestic laws.

I was subjected to the same treatment when I was covering the Christmas celebrations on 24 December 2010. Preventative Security officers arrested me in front the Church of the Nativity. They prevented me from covering the event and transported me to the PPS headquarters. Then, they told me that I was “an undesirable person to cover this event”. I was asked to leave the area at once.

I ask the Palestinian authorities and all those concerned with maintaining the freedom of press to take responsibility for what is happening with members of the press and abide by Palestinian laws.

 

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: Affidavit No. 6055/2011
  • Field researcher: Hisham Sharabati
  • Affidavit Date: 8 February 2011
  • Name: Mamdouh Mahmoud Muhammad Hamamra
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