Alan Johnston kidnapped
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Yes, great news, I hope he is OK.
The BBC also have a
dedicated page for Alan http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2007/04/supporting_alan.html
The BBC also have a
London, Asharq Al-Awsat- A high-ranking Palestinian security official has asserted that British Broadcasting Corporation, "BBC", reporter Alan Johnston who was kidnapped in Gaza is still alive contrary to the report that he was killed as stated in a statement issued by an unknown organization in the Palestinian territories called "Al-Tawhid Wa al-Jihad Brigades."
But according to its spokesman, the Palestinian Interior Ministry does not know where Johnston is held or the party that kidnapped him on 12 March though it ruled out that any harm has befallen him.
Palestinian National Security Director Major General Rashid Abu-Shibak told "Asharq al-Awsat" that "he is alive." In reply to a question on whether there is contact between the party that kidnapped him which he refused to identify and the security organs, Abu-Shibak, who was head of Preventive Security until few months ago, answered: "There are ways through which we are trying to contact the kidnappers."
He refused to confirm or deny information that Johnston is held by one of Gaza's powerful families that is supported by a party in the Palestinian Authority [PA] and that it is demanding $5 million for his release and threatening to kill him or hand him to another party if the ransom was not paid.
On his part, the Palestinian Interior Ministry spokesman told Asharq al-Awsat, "So far and as an interior ministry, we have no information confirming where he is. There are rumors and suspicions pointing in several directions. But everyone is denying." He added: "There is a strong suspicion that he is with a group headed by persons from a certain family in Gaza. But this group is not a resistance faction." He went onto say: "No party has so far admitted kidnapping Johnston or making any demands. But there could be contact between the party behind the kidnapping and a party in the PA about which we know nothing and no one has told us. Our stand as interior ministry is that the situation is difficult and complicated. We rely on the security organs but they are in a pitiful state and the security situation is way out of control."
Meanwhile more voices were raised inside the Palestinian territories demanding the release of the 44 year old Johnston, who is described as one of the reporters who support and back the Palestinian cause. He is the only foreign correspondent who refused to live anywhere but in Gaza and has been in the city for three years. He was supposed to end his service there at the end of March, just two weeks after his kidnapping.
From his cell inside Israel's jails, Marwan al-Barghuthi, secretary of the Fatah movement's Higher Committee in the West Bank, appealed to Johnston's kidnappers to release him. He said in a statement published by the popular committee for his [Al-Barghuthi's] release: "I appeal from my cell and on behalf of 10,000 male and female prisoners in the occupation's jails for the immediate release of reporter Alan Johnston, the Palestinian people's friend." He also called for "respecting and protecting the reporters operating in Palestine and all foreign workers and employees in Palestine and for the categorical rejection of the principle of kidnap and attack on persons and possessions as this will cause huge damage to the Palestinian people's higher interests and the national struggle."
Kate Burton, a human rights activist, was kidnapped in Gaza in December 2005. She wrote this plea for the release of the BBC's reporter in Gaza Alan Johnston.
I feel helpless. We are all tired. At this point I don't know what to say, and what I will say cannot do justice to the respect I hold for Alan Johnston, and for the people of Gaza for that matter.
I am much tempted to say the usual things: Alan doesn't deserve this, it damages the Palestinian cause.
I know many people have said as much. But at the end of the day it is a question of politics, or other interests, and I feel helpless.
What I really want, obviously, is for Alan to be released.
One month is an unbearable amount of time in such circumstances and I honestly cannot imagine how much the solitude and monotony might be affecting him, despite his strength of character, his calm nature and sharp mind.
To those people who are waiting, hoping for and expecting Alan's release every day, I want to convey a brief detail of what my parents and I went through when we were kidnapped in Gaza.
I can in no way imply that Alan is going through the same: he has been held for much longer and is alone.
I can only say that beyond the actual denial of our freedom, those who held us treated us with the utmost respect, and gave us everything we needed in an attempt to maintain our physical strength as well as our morale and psychological well-being.
Our kidnappers constantly repeated the fact that the respect I had earned in the Gaza community deserved the same respect from them towards us.
I am certain that the same is true for Alan, who is held in enormously high esteem in all the occupied Palestinian territories and the world - evident from the sentiments of anger, desperation and sadness shown by journalists and countless solidarity groups worldwide since his disappearance.
To those who are holding Alan Johnston: I guess you are the only people I really want to talk to, because I know that everyone else apart from you already wants what I want.
I am personally calling on you to listen. I want to remind you who you are: You have families, children, brothers, sisters, people who are close to you, just like Alan is dear to us all.
I know the kind of place you are holding him, the boredom you are feeling, the anger and frustration you are going through.
I know you are watching the TV and following the news and you know now how much Alan means to the people of Gaza and Palestine. You know how much he is respected for his work among the Palestinians during his three years in Gaza.
When no-one else was covering the reality of what is going on in your world, Alan was there.
He described the sonic booms after the disengagement, the electricity shortages after the power plant was hit, the constant and never-ending closures that affect every part of your lives, the massacres, the medical patients suffering at Rafah crossing.
He was telling your entire story to the world, piece by piece, and now there is no-one left to tell it.
I know your answer will be: What good has it done us? But you know it has done a lot.
The results are always slow but you know there are results nonetheless.
Support for the Palestinians, for your brothers, sisters, daughters and sons, is being destroyed more every day that goes by with Alan in captivity.
If you continue targeting foreigners such as Alan Johnston I fear you are doing the same that Israel did when its troops killed Tom Hurndall, Rachel Corrie and others.
You are pushing away from Gaza those who want to help you get out of the situation your people have been suffering for decades.
You are isolating yourselves, and your people. And I do not believe this is what you want and who you are.
During the time I was kidnapped, I realised that those who had kidnapped me wanted what I wanted for their people: Freedom, economic opportunities, an end to corruption and power imbalances, and an end to the occupation.
But they were trying to achieve it in the wrong way and it was clear that in reality they knew that.
I am asking you now to maintain some self-respect, let down your barriers and let Alan go, and take the opportunity following his release to give your voice afterwards, when people will want to listen.
It is the only way.
I plead with you, for the Palestinian people, for your families, for Alan, for me. This is a well-known expression in Gaza: One who lives 40 days among a people becomes one of them.
Alan is one of you a thousand times over. We are tired. Khalas [enough].
Cairo, 15 April 2007
Yeah, I heard yesterday his parents recorded a birthday greeting for him. Unfortunately there's been no other word, and these past two days have seen an increase in violence in Gaza, both in terms of factional infighting and Israeli bombardment, so at present chances fo securing Alan's release don't look too good.
Missing BBC journalist Alan Johnston is alive and well, according to a Palestinian government official and member of Hamas.
Mr Johnston, the only foreign correspondent based in Gaza full-time, was captured in Gaza City on March 12th.
However since he disappeared very little official news has been reported by Palestinian officials.
Yet Ghazi Hamad, a friend of the journalist and a government official, revealed that Mr Johnston was safe and well and had not been harmed.
"I know that he is well and healthy, and in a good situation. No one has tried to harm him or hurt him," said Dr Hamad, speaking at the Hay literary festival in Wales.
He also added that he is personally involved in the attempt to release him.
"I think there are continuous efforts to release him. We hope we can do it very, very soon."
The kidnapping of Mr Johnston, who has become the longest held reporter in the Gaza Strip, has received attention worldwide. An online petition by the BBC calling for his release now has more than 100,000 names.
Dr Hamad also condemned the kidnapping of his friend and praised Mr Johnston's reporting of the bleak situation facing many civilians in the troubled region.
"It is my job to do everything to release him, and also to help my people, because I think it is shameful for our people," he added.
"We thank them for supporting our cause and our issues. We have never hurt any journalists."