Letter to the Editor | Demand justice for Shireen Abu Akleh

Priests+and+friends+mourn+over+the+body+of+Al+Jazeera+Palestinian+journalist%2C+Shireen+Abu+Akleh%2C+on+May+11+before+her+body+is+transferred+for+burial+from+a+hospital+in+Jenin.+Abu+Akleh+was+shot+dead+as+she+covered+an+Israeli+army+raid+on+the+West+Banks+Jenin+refugee+camp.+

Photo courtesy of Jaafar Ashtiyeh/TNS

Priests and friends mourn over the body of Al Jazeera Palestinian journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, on May 11 before her body is transferred for burial from a hospital in Jenin. Abu Akleh was shot dead as she covered an Israeli army raid on the West Bank’s Jenin refugee camp.

By Mona Alrazzaq and Buthaina Hattab

Shireen Abu Akleh, Al-Jazeera correspondent and a prominent Palestinian journalist, was murdered on May 11 by Israeli forces while wearing a bulletproof “press” vest. Among her peers, Abu Akleh was called a “butterfly” due to the kindness she exuded on and off the field.

She began reporting with Al-Jazeera in 1997 and was a leading reporter of the Second Intifada, where she became a household name for Palestinians looking for reliable news.

Journalism exists to ensure citizens remain accurately informed about what is happening in the world they live in. Abu Akleh not only fulfilled her duty but also excelled in reporting on Palestine. The press badge she wore was supposed to serve as protection. Instead, the badge was a target for Israeli forces due to her identity as a Palestinian journalist.

She is one of 50 Palestinian journalists that have been killed by Israeli forces since 2000, with six killed just in the last two years. When asked about her reasoning for choosing journalism, Abu Akleh explained, “I chose journalism to be close to people. It may not be easy to change the reality, but at least I was able to make that voice heard in the world.”

Her statement of making voices heard resonates deeply with Palestinians, as war crimes and human rights abuses are reported in a passive manner by politicians and the media. Subsequently, the New York Times titled their article about Abu Akleh’s death; “Shireen Abu Akleh, Trailblazing Palestinian journalist, Dies at 51.” This title leaves out the true cause of her death by making it seem as though the end of her life was foreseen and natural.

According to the United Nations, killing a “clearly identified press worker is a violation of international law.” However, Israel has never been held accountable for the countless violations of international law that they commit.

We call on The Daily Illini and journalists at the University to take a principled stance against Palestinian human rights abuses at the hands of Israel, especially those that specifically endanger journalists. Everyone should have access to the truth. Further, those impeding and repressing the truth should be held accountable by the public.

 

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