Free Allan Johnston, NOW!

27 June 2007 at 00:21 | 13999 views

ASALJIE - Position Statement on the abduction of BBC Journalist Allan Johnston.

Following the surreptitious capture and incarceration of Alan Johnston, the only
international correspondent that was still living and working in the lawless Gaza Strip
while performing his duties Monday 12 march 2007, we the members of the
Association of Sierra Leonean Journalists in Exile (ASALLJIE) Australia
hereby totally and unreservedly condemn this dastardly act.

We also call on the captors to unconditionally and immediately release him and to ensure his safe
return as well. Alan, a correspondent of the British broadcaster, the BBC has been
working in Palestine for over two years. An Islamic militant group calling itself “The
Army of Islam” has claimed responsibility of abducting and holding the BBC
Correspondent in captivity for over 100 days now!

As journalists in exile in Australia and elsewhere in the diaspora, we are appalled by
the perpetrators of such terrorist acts on a fellow colleague whose only crime has been
to report to the rest of the world the plight of a down-trodden population caught in the
middle of a fanatical war. We know how it feels to report or practice journalism in a
hostile environment like Palestine and deeply sympathise with the family, friends,
colleagues and supporters of Alan on what has been a very difficult journey.

Alan Johnston’s presence and reporting on the Palestinian situation has helped put the
Palestinian people’s cause on the international stage and has earned them enormous
support and sympathy. However, the actions by “The Army of Islam” to capture and
detain him are unjustifiable and counterproductive to the cause of the Palestinian
people - doing more damage to the image of a just Palestinian society that yearns for
democracy, better life and at peace with her neighbours.

It is refreshing to note the release by his captors of a video of Alan Friday 1 June
2007 looking healthy while maintaining that he has been treated well. It is not clear
when the video was recorded or under what circumstances Alan was asked to make
his statement, although the video was welcomed Allan Johnston’s family, friends and
supporters worldwide.

It is understood that negotiations are underway to secure Alan Johnston’s release. A statement as monitored on the BBC report of 18 June 2007 states that in a video.
footage relayed on an Arabic News Channel Al Jazeera, a man claiming to be a
spokesman for the armed Islamic group says no deal has yet been reached to release
Alan Johnston. But the spokesman said the talks are continuing while insisting that
the group’s demand for the release of Moslem prisoners including the radical cleric
Abu Katada must be met first. He also warned of the group’s intention to kill their
captive if according to what he says, “...if the situation worsens”.
On this score therefore, ASALJIE hereby calls on the Palestinian Territory president
Mahmud Abas, his former Prime Minister Ismail Haniya and their supporters to
continue to exert pressure on the Army of Islam to securing the immediate and
unconditional release of Alan Johnston. We hope and pray that Allan’s freedom will
be secured without any harm done to him.
Holding Alan Johnston in captivity we believe is against the wish of the Palestinian
people. We demand for his freedom and NOW!

1. Amadu Barrie
2. Michael Kamara
3. Theodore Jalloh
4. Amadu Bah
5. Sidique Jalloh
6. Sonny Cole
7. Tony Conteh
8. Sullay Fornah
9. Sulaiman Timbo
10. Marvin James
11. Abdul Jalloh
12. Prince Coker
13. Tunji Cole

Photo: Alan Johnston.