Director-General condemns murder of journalists Hind Ismail and Fakher Haider in IraqThe Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the murder of two journalists in separate incidents in Iraq: Hind Ismail, of the Mosul daily As-Saffir, on September 16, and Fakher Haider of the New York Times, on September 18.
“I condemn the assassination of Ms Ismail and Mr Haider,” the Director-General declared. “I cannot find words strong enough to express my outrage at the deadly campaign waged against journalists and media workers in Iraq. I am also at a loss for words with which to express my admiration for these women and men who pay with their lives for their right to tell us what they see and think, and for our right to read and hear about what is going on.”
“The work of these people is essential for the reconstruction of Iraq as a free country and their murderers are clearly trying to crush the basic human right of freedom of expression along with all the other human rights which the people of Iraq deserve to enjoy,” Mr Matsuura added. “It is in the name of these basic human rights that I exhort all authorities in Iraq to give greater priority, despite the difficult situation on the ground, to improving the safety of those journalists brave enough to carry out their important work in such appalling conditions.”
Hind Ismail, a 28-year-old reporter for the local daily As-Saffir, was kidnapped in the northern city of Mosul on Friday and found dead the next morning.
Fakher Haider of the New York Times was seized on Sunday night from his home in the southern city of Basra by several men claiming to be police officers and his body was found on Monday. Mr Haider also worked for the Basra-TV station Merbad TV, The Guardian (UK), National Geographic (USA) and other publications.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, these two killings bring to 55 the number of journalists of killed in Iraq since the start of the war there in 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 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…”