UNESCO Director-General condemns murder of Iraqi TV presenter Munsuf Abdallah al-KhaldiThe Director-General of UNESCO Koïchiro Matsuura today condemned the murder of Munsuf Abdallah al-Khaldi, a presenter for Baghdad TV, and of a passenger travelling with him in his car on 9 March on the way from Baghdad to Mosul in northern Iraq.
“I condemn the brutal attack that took the life of TV presenter Munsuf Abdallah al-Khaldi and one of his passengers,” the Director-General declared. “The level of brutality in Iraq has reached appalling proportions,” he added. “I cannot find words strong enough to condemn acts which target brave professionals intent on defending the basic human right of freedom of expression and its corollary: freedom of the press. It is essential for the consolidation of democracy and rule of law in Iraq that the authorities do all in their power to improve the safety of media professionals in the country.”
Munsuf Abdallah al-Khaldi, 35, was shot by unidentified gunmen in his car as he was on his way with three passengers to interview poets in Mosul for his educational and cultural programme. One of the passengers was also killed and the two others were injured in the attack.
According to the Committee to Protect Jounralists (CPJ), four journalists of Baghdad TV were injured on 1 March when the TV came under artillery fire by insurgents. The CPJ also reports that the station has been receiving e-mail threats because of its criticism of insurgent attacks.
At least 65 journalists and 23 media workers have been killed in Iraq since March 2003, making it the deadliest conflict for the media in recent history, according to the CPJ.
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…”