Director-General condemns murder of Iraqi journalist Firas MaadidiThe Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the killing of Iraqi journalist Firas Maadidi on September 20 in Mosul, northern Iraq. He was the bureau chief of the Iraqi As-Saffir newspaper.
“I condemn the murder of Firas Maadidi,” the Director-General declared. “Mr Maadidi is the second As-Saffir journalist to be assassinated for his work in less than a week. These killings are clearly part of a brutal campaign against Iraq’s young democracy. But the country’s journalists have shown incredible determination to carry out their essential work for the construction of democracy and rule of law. Iraq has suffered from the absence of both for all too long and I call on all to support the journalists of Iraq in their struggle for truth and transparency.”
Mr Maadidi, who was also the editor in chief of the local daily Al-Masar, was gunned down outside his home on Tuesday. He is the third journalist to be killed in Iraq in just four days. The killing brings the death toll for journalists killed in Iraq to 56 since March 2003, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. NGO says that two-thirds of the journalists killed are Iraqi nationals. Six journalists have been killed in Mosul alone in 2005.
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…”