Director-General condemns the assassination of Sabah al-Jaf, Director-General of Iraq's Ministry of EducationThe Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the assassination of Sabah al-Jaf, Director-General of Evaluation and Examination at the Iraqi Ministry of Education, denouncing the growing number of attacks against education officials in Iraq.
“I categorically condemn the murder of Sabah al-Jaf,” the Director-General declared. “The escalating violence against Education Ministry officials and academics is intolerable. It marks an assault not just on individuals but on society as a whole. Education is a basic human right and a key to sustainable development and peace. By targeting educators, the perpetrators of such violence are undermining the reconstruction of Iraq and jeopardizing the future of the country and of democracy.”
Mr al-Jaf and one of his bodyguards were killed by unidentified gunmen in the Al-Karradah district of Baghdad on 22 May. Another of Mr al-Jaf's bodyguards is reported to have been seriously injured in the attack.
Mr al-Jaf is the third senior official of the Iraqi Ministry of Education to be assassinated. Kamal al-Jarrah, Director-General of Cultural Relations, and Abbas Kadhim Murad, Director-General of the Arabic Language Teaching and Development Institute, were also murdered in similar circumstances.
According to the Geneva-based Study and Research Centre for the Arab and Mediterranean World, close to 200 academics have been killed in Iraq since 2003 and thousands have been driven into exile. Last month, the Director-General of UNESCO appealed to the international community to support Iraqi academics and intellectuals and called for solidarity and mobilization in favour of education and educators in the country.