New Delhi: Terming it as “dastardly”, citizen groups in the national capital assembled at Connaught Place here on Friday to protest the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
The protest, under the banner of All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation (AIPSO), saw the participation of students, women, political and peace activists. The protesters alleged that Israeli occupation forces deliberately targeted Shireen because she had shown successfully how the Israeli army had uprooted Arab people from their land and grabbed their precious resources.
Shireen, 51, who worked for Qatar-based news network, Al Jazeera, was shot in "in cold blood" in the head during the unrest in the Jenin refugee camp, the channel said on Thursday.
Ayub Khan, a peace activist told NewsClick that the murder should be condemned in the strongest words. “We are organising this protest at a very short notice. We came here to highlight that India should condemn this murder because it has adopted a foreign policy which advocates end to arms race. Besides being land grabber, Israel has played a pivotal role in destabilising world peace and the latest murder of journalist is only one part of it,” he told NewsClick.
R Arun Kumar, head, international relations department of Communist Party of India (Marxist), said that the protest becomes relevant in India because like Shireen, different governments have slapped charges like UAPA against journalists and put them behind bars. “The common thread between India and Israel punishing journalists remains sharing of repressive ideologies of Hindutva and Zionism. Rulers in both countries are bound by their hatred for Muslims. I think extending solidarity to Palestine is a legacy of our freedom struggles and we must reiterate it today,” he said.
Utkarsh Kumar, a student of Global Studies from Ambedkar University said Shireen was reportedly killed by a sniper of Israeli Occupation Forces even when she was wearing a press vest on duty. “For me, it is particularly important to express our anguish because governments across the world have been prosecuting journalists who have been reporting against their them. The ‘bulldozer politics’ that we talk nowadays in our country has its origins in Israel where government demolished the homes of innocent Palestinians who resisted its occupation. Through this protest, we convey our anguish to all oppressors that it will not be tolerated,” he said.
In press statement, AIPSO said an impartial enquiry must be conducted into Shireen’s killing and exemplary punishment must be given to those responsible for this brutal assassination.
“Shireen Abu Akleh, a US citizen, is considered as an ‘icon of Palestinian coverage’. She reported to the world with honesty the brutal deeds of the Israeli occupation forces and the atrocities they commit on Palestinians. This made her a target of the Israeli attack. It is heinous that instead of accepting its responsibility, the Israeli defence forces are laying the blame on Palestinians for the killing – which was rubbished as a blatant lie by the journalists on the ground,” the statement read.
Appalled by the killing, United Nations General Secretary Antonio Gutterres has asked the relevant authorities to carry out “an independent and transparent investigation into this incident and ensure that those responsible are held accountable.”
In a statement, the Secretary-General condemned ”all attacks and killings of journalists and stresses that journalists must never be the target of violence. Media workers should be able to carry out their work freely and without harassment, intimidation or the fear of being targeted.”
The statement added that attack on Abu Akleh has to be seen in the background of the increasing attacks on journalists taking place in many places whenever the ruling forces are bothered with the true representation of facts.
The organisers of the protest in Delhi said:”India too is a witness to such increasing attacks on journalists carried out by Right-wing, authoritarian forces. Hence it is not coincidental that the Zionist forces that killed Abu Akleh and Hindutva communal forces in India leading the attacks on journalists, share deep ideological affinity and friendship. This makes it all the more necessary for Indian people to express indignation at the brutal assassination of Akleh.”