The BBC is currently reporting that missing reporter Alan Johnston may in fact still be alive. Apparently PA President Mahmoud Abbas has made a statement to this effect in Sweden today, stating that his intelligence services have confirmed this. Though he is aware of the group responsible for kidnapping Johnston, Abbas has not given any more details and there is not yet any definitive proof Johnston is still living.
Here are a couple of links to petitions you can sign to show your support for Johnston and to demand that he be released. To be honest, I’ve never had much faith in the power of the petition, but I’ve received so many lately that I figure it can’t hurt to spread the word. Sign the BBC’s online petition here. This is another petition that I heard about from the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
April 17th was Palestinian Prisoners Day. To mark the occasion, the Gaza-based organization Mothers and Families of Palestinians and Arabs in Israeli Jails issued the following statement in response to the claim by Alan’s alleged kidnappers that he was taken to help Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails:
On Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, the Mothers of Prisoners Call for Their Release and Condemn Kidnappings in the Name of Stopping Their Continuous Suffering.
On the occasion of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, 17 April 2007, we, the mothers and families of Palestinian and Arab prisoners detained in Israeli jails, continue to miss our loved ones and hope that they will be immediately released.
It is we who each day miss our loved ones, who have been cut off from their sons, daughters and relatives by Israeli Occupation Forces. It is we who witness their detention in jails that lack the minimum international acceptable detention standards.
As we reject the illegal detention and inhuman treatment of prisoners, we reject the claim by any group that they may commit criminal and un-national acts in the name of the Palestinian and Arab prisoners. The kidnapping of anybody, including BBC journalist Alan Johnston, is against the rights of the prisoners, it is against the love and the suffering of their mothers, it is against the whole of the Palestinian people.
As we call upon relevant local, regional and international parties to ensure the immediate release of our prisoners, we call on those who have kidnapped Alan to immediately release him. We call on them not to stoop to the level of the occupation by conducting these pernicious acts. We call on them not to violate the goodwill of the people of the world towards the well-known suffering of the Palestinian people, who have been under occupation for nearly 40 years.
Based on our heritage, morals and principles and the Palestinian proverb that says: “No one feels the pain, except those who are injured,” we, the mothers and families of prisoners understand the pain afflicted to the family of Alan Johnston, and as we call for the immediate release of our prisoners, we hope the same for our peoples’ friend Alan Johnston.
As the suffering of prisoners in Israeli jails continues, and conflicting statements appears in the media concerning an exchange of prisoners, we call on the Palestinian side to prioritize this issue and learn from the mistakes of the past in negotiations on the issue of prisoners.
We also call upon the international community to pressure the Israeli government to comply with the human justice requirements and international humanitarian law, and release our prisoners.
We further stress to the Israeli government that the continued detention and inhuman treatment of more than 10,000 prisoners does not serve the peace process. Rather it deepens doubts concerning the possibility of achieving peace. These doubts will continue as long as prisoners are still detained in Israeli jails and they and their families continue to suffer.
Peace should bring liberation of people and land rather than enhance occupation and increase the suffering of people.
Freedom for the prisoners of liberation.
The Mothers and Families of Palestinian and Arab Prisoners in Israeli Jails