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Director-General condemns murder of Iraqi journalist Sahar Hussein Ali al-Haydari

19-06-2007 (Paris)
Director-General condemns murder of Iraqi journalist Sahar Hussein Ali al-Haydari
Stop killing journalists
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Sahar Hussein Ali al-Haydari was killed by unidentified gunmen in Mosul on 7 June.
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the murder of the Iraqi journalist Sahar Hussein Ali al-Haydari, killed by unidentified gunmen in Mosul on 7 June.

“I condemn the murder of Sahar Hussein Ali al-Haydari,” declared Mr Matsuura. “In only a few days, three women journalists have been brutally murdered. The death of Sahar Hussein Ali al-Haydari follows those of two women journalists from Afghanistan, Zakia Zaki, founder of one of the first community radios managed by women, and television presenter Shokiba Sanga Amaaj. These pioneering women were targeted because they devoted their energy and courage to help bring about democratic change in their societies. These journalists gave their lives for the fundamental human right that is freedom of expression, and we can never pay them sufficient tribute. I trust these particularly heinous crimes will not go unpunished.”

Sahar Hussein Ali al-Haydari, age 44, was a correspondent for the national Iraqi press agency NINA and the independent agency Aswat al-Iraq. She contributed to a number of other media and also taught journalism, notably for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in London.

According to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), Sahar Hussein Ali al-Haydari was killed while doing errands in the Al-Hadbaa district, having just covered a suicide bombing against a police station in the neighbouring town of Al-Rabiya. She had received numerous death threats, escaped two abduction attempts, and been injured in 2006 while photographing mosques destroyed by arson. Because of these continual threats, the CPJ had helped her relocate her husband and four of her children to Damascus (Syria).

Sahar Hussein Ali al-Haydari is the second journalist from Aswat al-Iraq to be murdered this year. Last 30 May, her colleague Nazar Abdulwahid al-Radhi was shot to death in Al-Amarah in the south. According to the CPJ, at least 106 journalists and 39 media workers have been killed in Iraq since March 2003.

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 the Organization is requested 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…”
Related themes/countries

      · Iraq
      · Towards democracy in Iraq
      · Freedom of Expression: News Archives 2007
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  • UNESCO Press Release No. 2007–63

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