• Media Deaths in 2007 Reach 23 After Bombing and Assassinations
• Iraqi Prime Minister matches IFJ aid for media victims
• April 8th Campaign Demands Answers from US Military
• IFJ Organises New Safety meeting in Irbil
The fourth anniversary of the still unexplained killing of three journalists by United States troops in Baghdad on 8 April 2003 will be marked this weekend following a week of shocking attacks on journalists contrasting with a momentous demonstration of solidarity for media victims of violence in Iraq.
Yesterday saw the brutal assassination of Khamaail Mohsin, a mother of three and journalist with Radio Free Iraq, the US funded Radio station in Arabic, and the bombing of the Iraqi satellite channel Baghdad TV, killing the station’s Deputy Director, Thaer Ahmad Jaber, himself the father of seven daughters, and trainee journalist Husain Nizaer. The television station blast – a suicide bombing involving a garbage truck packed with explosives – also injured 11 staff, three of whom remain in a critical situation.
Further news emerged today of the killing of a fourth journalist, Othman al-Mashhadani, a reporter for the Saudi newspaper Al Watan, who had been kidnapped on Wednesday. His body was found in Baghdad. These deaths bring to 23 the number of Iraqi media killed in 2007 alone. At least 196 journalists and media workers have died in Iraq since the US invasion four years ago.
The deaths cast a shadow over celebrations organised yesterday by Iraqi Journalists Syndicate in solidarity with the victims of violence. The syndicate handed over more than 80,000 US$ to 220 families of media victims. The government donated 40,000 US$, matching 33,000 US$ raised by member unions of the International Federation of Journalists through a special Iraqi Humanitarian Fund set up last year. A further 8,000 US$ contribution came from the Oil Ministry.
Prime Minister Maliki paid tribute to the sacrifices made by Iraqi journalists. He said: “National media outlets that are committed to serve the truth have turned into a spearhead against terrorists.”
Meanwhile, the IFJ and its national journalists unions around the world renewed calls for the United States to provide credible reports over a number of media deaths at the hands of US soldiers in Iraq and, in particular, the killing of three journalists on April 8th 2003.
Sunday marks the fourth anniversary of the attack by US troops on the Palestine Hotel, which housed scores of media personnel, killing Taras Protsyuk of Reuters and Jose Cuoso, of the Telecinco network in Spain. On the same morning, journalist Tareq Ayyoub was killed when the Baghdad offices of the Arab satellite channel Al Jazeera were attacked by US fighter planes.
“Four years on still no credible reports have been produced to explain these attacks and no one has been held to account for the killings,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “The United States must answer questions that are still asked over these deaths and many others at the hands of their troops in Iraq. With the number of media casualties growing daily, impunity becomes intolerable, particularly when it concerns the actions of those who speak in the name of democracy and human rights.”
In December 2006, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1738, a measure championed by the IFJ and its member unions that protects journalists in conflict zones and says killing them can be considered a war crime.
The IFJ has also demanded action over the deaths of British ITN reporter Terry Lloyd and his colleagues Fred Nérac and Hussein Osman, whose bodies are still missing, in a fire fight between US and Iraqi troops near Basra, in March 2003 as the invasion of Iraq gathered pace and has raised questions over the shooting by US soldiers of Reuters cameramen Mazen Dana.
In October last year the IFJ demanded the United States “tell the whole truth” about media deaths in Iraq at the hands of US troops after a British coroner ruled that the death of ITN reporter Terry Lloyd in the Basra fire-fight was an “unlawful killing.”
“The US military has never owned up to its responsibilities in Iraq,” White said. “We hope the UN resolution will help stop this trend of attacks on journalists but we must continue to fight to make sure that all past cases are investigated and the killers brought to justice. If not, we not only run the risk of more journalists being killed, but that these people will kill journalism as well.”
The IFJ’s support for its two affiliates in Iraq – the Kurdistan Syndicate of Journalists in Irbil and the Iraqi Syndicate of Journalists based in Baghdad – will continue next month with a visit to the country by the Federation’s General Secretary to attend a safety training event and to meet with government officials over the media crisis in the country.
For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries worldwide