Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Alan Johnston: BBC Journalist

Text: Family's letter to Alan Johnston

As part of an international day of action appealing for the release of BBC journalist Alan Johnston, his father, Graham, read out an open letter to the journalist from his family.

"Hello old son,

I don't know if you will see this but I just felt that I wanted you to know how distressed and sorry we all are that you were taken.

You had warned us frequently that the chances were always there that you would be kidnapped and we were prepared in a way for this to happen. Nevertheless when it came, it was still a considerable shock.

Now, you have not to worry about us. Your mum and Trini and I are hanging in there and trying to keep a stiff upper lip. The support we have had from your friends and colleagues at home and abroad has been phenomenal, especially the BBC who have cosseted us and to whom our profuse thanks go for keeping us abreast of the situation.

There are so many people worldwide all hoping and praying for your release, not least of which I'm sure, are the vast majority of the Palestinian population, many of whom have told us they are ashamed that you were kidnapped. We know how much you enjoyed your work there.

Your fellow local journalists are doing a magnificent job holding demonstrations calling for your early release. There is so much sympathy for your plight around the globe and we are overwhelmed at such support, all of which helps to buoy us up during the past seemingly interminable four weeks.

I would like to say something to those who are holding you. You have family. Please think about what this is doing to my family

I would like to say something to those who are holding you. You have family. Please think about what this is doing to my family, including in particular the distress and deep concern Alan's mother and sister have had to endure for all these long weeks. As I have said before please let my son go now, today.

Alan, all our heartfelt warmest fondest love is sent to you from all your family and in the fervent hope that you will be released unharmed. Chin up my son, Trini, Raymond, Alastair and as always your ever-loving mum and dad."

Other activities in support of Alan Johnston:

Demonstrations for BBC's Johnston

A rally for kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston has been held by the National Union of Journalists in London.

The union demanded that more resources are devoted to secure the release of Mr Johnston, 44, who was abducted by gunmen more than six weeks ago.

Earlier, a rally was held by journalists at the main crossing point between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Members of the Foreign Press Association in Israel gathered on both sides of the Erez checkpoint.
The London vigil, backed by the International Federation of Journalists, was held outside the Palestinian General Delegation office.

NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear said: "We will not cease until Alan is free to rejoin his friends and family and resume his life as an internationally respected BBC journalist." read on...

My comments:

Hi Friends,

I am deeply touched by Graham Johnston’s letter.

It reminds me that at the end of the day, what is most important to all of us is family and true friends.

I could not help being impressed by how much Johnston’s employer, BBC, is moving heaven and earth to try to get Alan home. I am sure they have already tried the soft approach and when that failed, they are now rallying public opinion to exert pressure on the kidnappers to get him freed.

I remember some time back, one of SPH’s journalists also got into some trouble with a powerful Asian nation. My impression was and still is that SPH’s attempts to secure his release dwarfs considerably compared to BBC’s efforts.

This unfortunate journalist is still incarcerated and languishes in jail having been convicted as a “spy” and news about him has all but disappeared from the radar screen.

I sincerely hope that both of these journalists get back home to their loved ones soon.

If so, I am sure that Johnston will be the most loyal BBC employee ever but I am less certain of Mr. Ching Cheong’s feelings towards his employer ( or is it ex-employer).

Alan Johnston and Ching Cheong, God Bless and See you soon!

Dr. Huang Shoou Chyuan


Anonymous said...

Patriot says:

The kidnapping and wrongful imprisonment of anyone by whatever groups or government is just so immoral. Our heart and prayer goes out to Alan and his family. Let us also remember that there are many other faceless, nameless and countless individuals who are suffering in similar condition.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi Patriot,

I am sure Alan is aware of the dangers he faces as a journalist of a Western company in Gaza, a hotbed of radical activists.

Yet he thought it was worthwhile to try to tell the world what Gaza residents have to endure on a daily basis, and what better way than to live amongst them.

Life is short. We choose what we feel best suits our talents and with passion and daring we do something to benefit others.

Of course we hope we ourselves are better off (perhaps materially) in the process , but even if not, it is still worthwhile for brave men like Alan.

Kudos to him!

Gerald said...

You're right that SPH's efforts paled in comparison with BBC's. But what to do? We're a tiny fry.

In any case, I believe Ching Cheong is still The Straits Times' Chief China Correspondent and is still receiving a salary. The fact that they haven't completely abandoned him indicates that they still believe he is innocent despite China's assertions. Or perhaps he was doing his work all this while??

shoestring said...

Journalists who risk their lives to bring us authentic news - they are the real heroes that deserve out respect and support.

So, is it that difficult to be a journalist in Singapore?

Anonymous said...

Those journalists have their publishers backing their actions.

Not like over here.