Director-General condemns assassination of Lebanese newspaper editor Gebran TueniThe Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the car bomb attack in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, that killed four people including Gebran Tueni, the publisher and editor of the Lebanese newspaper An Nahar, and a press freedom activist, on Monday. Mr Tueni was also a member of the Lebanese parliament.
“I condemn the assassination of Gebran Tueni,” the Director-General declared. “The global press community has lost one of its great defenders. Mr Tueni’s death is a terrible loss not only for his family, friends and colleagues, but for the cause of freedom of expression and press freedom in the Middle East. I must also voice my concern over the increasing number of attacks on Lebanese journalists and politicians in the course of this year,”
Mr Matsuura further declared: “I am particularly affected by the killing of Gebran Tueni. He was a close friend of UNESCO, which he served notably as a member of the Committee on the Organization’s visibility. I wish to extend my heartfelt condolences to Mr Tueni’s family, particularly to his father, Ghassan Tueni, another leading figure of An Nahar and a former member of the jury of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.”
Mr Tueni, 48, was an active member of the Press Freedom Committee of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and of the International Press Institute (IPI), both international press freedom organizations. He was killed while travelling through the eastern Christian suburb of Mekalis, northeast of Beirut. According to IPI, there have been at least 14 bomb attacks in Beirut since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005. Mr Tueni is the second An Nahar journalist killed in the country this year. A third Lebanese reporter lost her leg in a car bomb explosion.
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…”