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UNESCO Condemns Murder of Dutch Filmmaker Theo Van Gogh

04-11-2004 (Paris)
UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura has condemned the murder, in Amsterdam on November 2, of journalist Theo van Gogh, who had directed approximately 20 documentary films.
“I condemn the cold-blooded murder of Theo van Gogh, who was stabbed and shot several times. This Dutch television personality in his way exemplified freedom of expression. Democracy and rule of law require that people like him express themselves freely, even when their words and the ideas they hold are disturbing,” declared Mr Matsuura. He added: “We have the right to disagree with people’s ideas, but we do not have the right to silence them.”

Theo van Gogh, great grand-nephew of the painter Vincent van Gogh, directed films that were often controversial, as was the case of “Submission”, based on a script by Somali-born Member of the Netherland’s Parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali. It was broadcast last summer by a Dutch television channel.

UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this purpose the Organization is required to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image.

(Source: Press Release No.2004-102)
Related themes/countries

      · Freedom of Expression: News Archives 2004
      · Netherlands: News Archives
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