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Tuesday, August 27, 2002
Palestinian press organization bans journalists from taking pictures of armed children

Palestinian press organization bans journalists from taking pictures of
armed children
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS The Jerusalem Post Aug. 26, 2002

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - The Palestinian journalists union on Monday banned
journalists from photographing Palestinian children carrying weapons or
taking part in activities by militant groups, saying that the pictures harm
the Palestinian cause.

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate also called on Palestinian factions
and their military wings to stop using children in their activities.

The Foreign Press Association, representing news media working in Israel and
the Palestinian territories, called on the organization to withdraw its
statement, saying it limited coverage of news. Palestinian Authority
officials had no immediate comment.

Children carrying weapons or dressed up as suicide bombers have been
frequently seen at rallies and marches in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
during nearly two years of
Palestinian-Israeli violence. Israel has charged that Palestinians are
misusing children as pans in the conflict; the Palestinians counter that
Israeli forces target children with gunfire during riots.

Recently six children armed with M16 rifles and Kalashnikov machine guns
took part in a pro-Iraqi rally in the southern town of Rafah in the Gaza
Strip.

Tawfik Abu Khousa, deputy chairman of the syndicate, said such pictures
harmed the image of the Palestinian people and the credibility of
Palestinian journalists.

"We have decided to forbid taking any footage of armed children, because we
consider that as a clear violation of the rights of children and for
negative effects these pictures have on the Palestinian people," he said.

In the statement issued by the syndicate it said footage of armed children
served "the interests of Israel and its propaganda against the Palestinian
people."

The union threatened to boycott militant groups who use children and masked
men in their activities.

The ban extended to Palestinian journalists who worked for local and foreign
new agencies. Colleagues who work with foreign news agencies must commit any
photographers who come to the region to the decision of the syndicate.

The syndicate said journalists who failed to adhere to the ban would be
investigated and subjected to disciplinary procedures. Free-lancers were
also expected to abide by the ban.

The statement said that there was "clear evidence that some photographers
ware trying ... to mark the Palestinian struggle with terrorism." Reporters
were also banned from photographing masked men.

The syndicate was established in the 1980s in the Gaza Strip and the West
Bank. There are 167 Palestinian journalists and photographers in the Gaza
branch, according to the union.

In a statement, the Foreign Press Association expressed "deep concern" over
the decision by the syndicate and its threats of sanctions against
journalists, local and foreign, who disregard the ban.

"While we share the expressed desire to defend the rights of children,
limiting coverage of legitimate news events and elements of stories is not
the proper way to achieve this goal," it said.

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