An open letter to the Government of Aotearoa New Zealand
Prime Minister Right Hon Jacinda Ardern
Cc Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Nanaia Mahuta
Tēnā koe Prime Minister
NZ Government must hold Israel to account for the murder of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh
Justice for Palestine, Palestinian Youth Aotearoa and Alternative Jewish Voices writes to call on the Government of Aotearoa New Zealand to hold Israel to account for the murder of Palestinian journalist for Al Jazeera, Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead by the Israeli army on 11 May, while covering a raid in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli army subsequently attacked and injured mourners at Shireen Abu Akleh’s funeral procession.
A free press is essential to democracy. The targeting of journalists anywhere, including in conflict zones, undermines democracy and there must be a swift and resolute response to those who try to harm journalists or suppress press freedom.
In 2020 the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate stated Israeli forces had killed over 46 Palestinian journalists since 2000. It is now estimated Palestinian journalists killed by Israel since then number in the 50s. Further, in May 2021, Israeli forces destroyed multiple tower blocks housing numerous media outlets, including Aljazeera, Associated Press and Middle East Eye.
These attacks are not an aberration, they are part of a pattern of systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists by Israeli forces to prevent them from bearing witness to crimes perpetrated against Palestinians every day.
Israel’s actions towards journalists reporting on the illegal occupation of Palestine violate the right to life, freedom of expression, freedom of movement and freedom from discrimination. They are in breach of international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The International Federation of Journalists alongside other organisations has recently submitted a case to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which alleges that Israel’s systemic targeting of media workers in Palestine and its failure to properly investigate the killing of journalists amount to war crimes. Abu Akleh’s has been added as one of the named victims in the complaint.
Expert legal counsel for the group that submitted the case stated:
“The cases communicated to the ICC Prosecutor are emblematic of the ongoing, systematic attacks and use of lethal force against journalists and media organisations in Palestine by the Israeli security services. These journalists and media organisations were targeted and attacked in circumstances that give rise to strong grounds to suspect that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed.”
Consequently, as citizens of Aotearoa New Zealand, we call on our Government, elected to represent us, to act in support of human rights and international law by:
- Condemning, in the strongest possible terms, the targeted killing of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh
- Issuing a statement supporting the International Criminal Court complaint seeking investigation and prosecution of the systemic targeting of Palestinian journalists
- Calling in the Israeli ambassador, Ran Yaakoby, and demanding an explanation of what action will be taken to provide justice for Shireen Abu Akleh, and to establish effective measures to protect journalists reporting within illegally occupied Palestinian territories.
In solidarity – ngā mihi nui,
Justice for Palestine, Palestinian Youth Aotearoa & Alternative Jewish Voices