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MADA responds to Government Media Office accusations

(MADA/IFEX) - Ramallah, 13 January 2012 - The Government Media Office in Gaza issued a statement on Tuesday 10 January 2012 accusing the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms "MADA" of deception, partisanship, operating in collusion with the policies and orders of the security services of the West Bank and a number of other inflammatory accusations.

The accusations came in response to MADA's monthly report, released this week, documenting the media freedoms violations in the region during December 2011, which found that the number of Palestinian violations in Gaza exceeded those of the West Bank.

MADA urges the Government Media Office to respond to the report according to the credibility of the information and data contained therein rather than biased accusations. MADA further wishes to add that if the Government is so concerned with the reporting of violations against journalists, it is best for them to focus on preventing their security services from committing them in the first instance, as all monthly reports of violations are documented according to the journalists' testimonies.

MADA would like to reiterate the following:

Firstly, MADA's reports and press releases reflect the reality without bias; the center has not nor will ever abandon its principles of neutrality, objectivity and courage under any circumstances. The professionalism and objectivity of its reports are characteristic of the center's work in all of its activities, research and publications, such as "MADA El-E'lam" magazine. Over the years of the center's work we have built a relationship based on trust with our colleagues, journalists in West Bank and Gaza Strip, all of whom we are proud to say have bestowed upon us their utmost trust; and it is this trust that has contributed so largely to the success of our work.

Secondly, MADA's professional credibility in the Palestinian arena is testified to by our large regional and international support base, which was confirmed by our organisation being elected to the position of council member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX). This network includes the most prominent organisations defending freedom of expression across the globe - a biased member would under no circumstances be accepted by IFEX.

Thirdly, we do not report on Gaza according to "political or ideological backgrounds" as the Government Media office claimed in their statement, but are instead faithful to our goals, and give special attention to the Gaza Strip. This is evidenced by the fact that MADA has, in many instances, conducted special research and activities in the Gaza Strip, such as a study on the impact of the Israeli blockade on the media sector, the hosting of the central celebration for World Press Freedom Day in Gaza city, in addition to the commitment that our magazine has displayed in reporting the range of media realities throughout the Gaza Strip.

Finally, the Government Media Office's accusation that we succumb to the orders of security services in the West Bank is utterly without merit and would be laughable if it weren't such in a blatant attempt to undermine the credibility of our organisation. As such, our only response is that our work and our objectivity speaks for itself.

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