06 April 2010
IFJ Demands Probe into Iraq Media Deaths After US Army Film Exposes Killing of Unarmed civilians and Journalists
The International Federation of Journalists today called on President Barack Obama to open a fresh investigation into the actions of the United States army which has been implicated in killings of journalists in Iraq following the release of a shocking video film of a helicopter gunship attack on civilians including two media staff in 2007.
“This is evidence of calculated, cold-blooded and horrifying violence,” said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. “The United States cannot ignore this atrocity and the killings of unarmed civilians. We insist on a completely new review of these and all the killings of journalists and media staff in the Iraq conflict.”
The incident was filmed from an Apache helicopter by soldiers and shows an attack carried out in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad in July 2007. The news agency Reuters has been trying unsuccessfully to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act because two of its employees -- Photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and driver Saeed Chmagh – were among the victims. The video shows horrifying clear footage of the initial attack and then further shooting at people trying to rescue the wounded.
The controversial film was released by Wikileaks and reignites the controversy over US army attacks on journalists during the conflict which were highlighted on April 8th 2003 when three journalists were killed when US forces fired on Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel, killing two journalists, José Couso of the Telecinco network in Spain, and Taras Protsiuk, a Ukrainian cameraman working for Reuters. Earlier that day US forces attacked the offices of Al-Jazeera in Baghdad, killing reporter Tareq Ayyoub.
“Altogether there have been 19 unexplained killings of media staff at the hands of US soldiers,” said Boumelha. “The administration of Barack Obama cannot duck its responsibility to set aside the white-wash of self-exonerating reporting by the US army. Justice requires that there is no impunity and that the US military is held to account for its actions in Iraq.”
For more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide