Online update

Vigil for Alan Johnston - 25 April, 12.30PM

5 Galena Road, Hammersmith, London W6 0LT

The NUJ is calling on members to show their support at a vigil for kidnapped BBC correspondent and union member Alan Johnston.

The union, with the support of the International Federation of Journalists, is to stage a vigil for Alan Johnston outside the Palestinian General Delegation office on Wednesday 25 April between 12.30pm and 1.30pm. Members who can are urged to attend to show your solidarity with Alan and efforts to secure his release.

After visiting the NUJ conference last weekend IFJ General Secretary Aidan White arrived in Gaza last night.

As an NUJ member Aidan is carrying a message from me on behalf of the NUJ to representatives of the Palestinian Authority demanding action against those who have kidnapped Alan. He is also taking with him a letter demanding Alan's release signed by 177 MEPs - the result of last Monday's day of action in Brussels organised by the IFJ with the support of the NUJ. The NUJ has also organised a day of action in Dublin today.

The US journalists' union has also now taken up the campaign after its President Linda Foley attended the NUJ conference and met with NUJ officials.

A report of the trade union meetings with the Palestinian Authorities over Alan's kidnap taking place over the next few days will be given at the vigil. We will hand in a letter demanding further resources and effort be devoted to trying to secure Alan's release and provide information to his family, friends and colleagues.

This latest move comes after meetings and correspondence between the union and UK and Palestinian government representatives over the past few weeks, as well as vital work with the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate to keep up the profile of Alan's plight . All our efforts have been to bring pressure to bear on the authorities, not only to work hard to secure Alan's safety and release but to address the threats to all journalists in the region and to enable them to work free from the threat of kidnap, intimidation and threats.

Please join us at the vigil if you can.

IFJ in Gaza Brings Plea from Almost 200 European Law Makers for Release of BBC Hostage Alan Johnston

The International Federation of Journalist (IFJ) today is delivering an appeal backed by nearly two hundred European parliamentarians from across the political spectrum for the immediate release of BBC journalist Alan Johnston.

The appeal, signed by 197 members of the European Parliament, is to be presented later today to the leaders of the Palestinian Authority including the offices of President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and the Palestinian Legislative Council.

At a meeting this morning with the Head of Security in Gaza, Brigadier Mohamed Al Massri told the IFJ that earlier reports of the execution of Johnston were unfounded. He claimed that the evidence available suggests he remains alive and in secure conditions. They remain unaware of his precise location.

“We welcome this rare display of political unity in Gaza where Palestinians on all sides are calling for an end to all hostage-taking and the release of Alan Johnston” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “The kidnapping of Johnston has come to symbolise the plight of thousands of journalists around the world who face the threat of kidnapping, violence and intimidation on a routine basis.”

President Abbas, who is out of the country, sent a special messages to White welcoming the IFJ initiative and the petition from European Parliament members and pledging to reinforce efforts to secure Johnston’s release.

Alan Johnston was first abducted over five weeks ago on 12 March. The National Union of Journalists for UK and Ireland and the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, both affiliated to the IFJ, are campaigning hard for Johnston’s immediate, unconditional and safe return.

The IFJ and all of its members want to see Johnston freed and in the process a new global commitment to end threats to independent journalism.

Last modified: 19 April 2007 - © 2007 contributors
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