Director-General condemns the murder of Iraqi journalist Muhsin KhudhairUNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today condemned the murder of Muhsin Khudhair, editor-in-chief of the magazine Alef Ba, who was killed in Baghdad on 13 March.
“I condemn the murder of Muhsin Khudhair. Violence against media professionals in Iraq is reaching horrifying proportions: Mr Khudair is the third journalist murdered there in less than a week,” Mr. Matsuura said. He added, “The courage of these professionals, who continue to risk their lives to keep us informed, can never be praised enough. These defenders of freedom of expression are also the best artisans for the consolidation of democracy and the rule of law in Iraq. They deserve everything that can be done to increase their safety.”
Muhsin Khudhair was murdered by an unknown assailant near his home on 13 March, just a few hours after taking part in a meeting of the Iraqi Journalists’ Union which discussed threats against the profession.
On 11 March, Amjad Hameed, programming director of the Al Iraqiya television station, and his driver Anwar Turki, were shot to death. On 7 March, the host of TV Baghdad, Munsuf Abdallah al-Khaldi, was killed on the road from Mosul.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says at least 67 journalists and 24 of their assistants have died in Iraq since March 2003. The committee stresses that the overwhelming majority are Iraqi and that most of the killings are targeted assassinations rather than the result of journalists being caught in crossfire.
UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Article 1 of its Constitution states that the Organisation’s goal is “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.” To achieve that objective, the Organisation must “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.”