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Director-General Voices Outrage at Escalating Attacks on Media Professionals in Iraq

03-11-2004 (Paris)
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura today expressed outrage at the killing of an unprecedented number of journalists in Iraq over the past week and reiterated his grave concern over the heavy tribute paid by media professionals in Iraq.
The Director-General’s condemnation came in the wake of the assassination on Monday of Dhia Najim, a freelance cameraman who worked for Reuters and The Associated Press, in Ramadi, west of Baghdad. On Saturday a car bomb attack on the Baghdad bureau of the Dubai-based satellite broadcaster Al-Arabiya killed five support staff: Ali Adnan, Hassan Alwan, Ramziya Moushee, Alahin Hussein, and Nabil Hussein; and wounded 14 other bureau employees, including five journalists. Unidentified gunmen shot Iraqi Al-Charkia television channel journalist Likaa Abdel-Razak on Wednesday, October 27. She was killed alongside the driver and interpreter she was with.

“I condemn the barbarous murders of Dhia Najim, Ali Adnan, Hassan Alwan, Ramziya Moushee, Alahin Hussein, Nabil Hussein and Likaa Abdel-Razak and am outraged by the unprecedented wave of violence unleashed on media workers in Iraq,” the Director General declared. “The number of victims in the Iraqi media’s heroic struggle to exercise their professional duty to inform the public bears testimony to the importance of their work for the future of the country.”

Mr Matsuura added: “The media’s work is essential for the establishment of democracy and, in the case of Iraq, for the reconstruction of the country. The murderous campaign waged against journalists in Iraq, which must be recognized for what it is: a campaign to terrorize and cower the people of Iraq.”

According to professional organizations, some 40 journalists and more than 20 media workers have been killed since the war in Iraq began in March 2003. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that Iraqis constitute more than 80 percent of the journalists and media workers killed in 2004.

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: UNESCO Press Release No.2004-101)
Related themes/countries

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