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IFJ affiliates show solidarity with journalists on the frontline of "Arab Spring"

(IFJ/IFEX) - 4 May 2011 - World Press freedom day 2011 comes at a crucial time in the life of people in the Arab World, which will determine their immediate future and the future of generations to come.

To mark May 3rd, the IFJ affiliates in the Arab region are showing solidarity with their colleagues working on the frontline, covering the revolutions and uprisings taking place in many countries across the region. In recognition of the courage and professionalism of these journalists, many of whom have died, been injured or are jailed, Arab journalists' unions are gathering behind one banner: In Solidarity with Journalists on the Frontline of the Arab Spring.

"Our unions and their members in the region are playing a major role in the seismic shift that is shaking the region and have become key players in the fight for democracy, individual freedom, justice and human rights," said IFJ president Jim Boumelha.

"Today we have the best conditions for these unions and their members to start challenging their governments to meet their obligations to guarantee citizens the right to free expression and access to information by reforming media laws and creating genuinely pluralist and professional structures for media and journalism dedicated to public service values. Our mobilisation of journalists in the region on press freedom day is a tremendous start to forging a new solidarity among journalists to reinvigorate their profession and mission and setting an agenda for change that will advance them and radically reform journalism."

The campaign was adopted in a regional meeting organised in Casablanca on 12-14 April, during which Arab unions observed a minute of silence and mourning in memory of the eight journalists killed in the region since the beginning of 2011 (now ten) while reporting the revolutions and popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Syria.

The immediate release of all journalists currently jailed in the region for doing their job was demanded, along with the introduction of radical reforms to the laws, starting with the abolition of laws that include imprisonment of journalists.

Arab unions say that the time has come for true and deep reform to ensure journalists' safety, the independence of the media and a legal environment protective of freedom of the press, freedom of expression and human rights.

See the full list of solidarity actions organised

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