Director-General condemns murder of Iraqi newspaper editor Mohammad Harun HassanThe Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the murder of Mohammad Harun Hassan, editor-in-chief of the Nabdh Al Shabeb newspaper and Executive Secretary of the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate, in Baghdad on October 20.
“I condemn the brutal assassination of Mr Hassan,” the Director-General declared. “This new attack on a respected newspaper editor demonstrates the fanaticism of opponents of human rights and democracy who will stop at nothing to impose their will on a society struggling to restore normal, dignified living conditions after so much suffering. A free and professional press is an essential condition for democracy and I wish to praise not only the memory of Mr Hassan, but the brave determination of Iraqi media professionals who continue working in terrifying conditions. I call on all people of good faith in Iraq to support the media in its efforts to keep the Iraqi public and its many friends around the world informed,” Mr Matsuura said.
Mr Hassan was shot four times by unknown attackers as he was driving his car in the centre of Baghdad on Thursday. According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the killing of Mr Hassan brings to 100 the number of journalists and media staff 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 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…”