IFJ Calls for New Campaign Over Targeting as New Iraq Killings Bring Media Death Toll to 54

The International Federation of Journalists this weekend called for a massive new campaign to condemn targeting of independent media and reporting in Iraq as two more reporters were killed and as fears remain over the fate of two French journalists held hostage.

On Friday Karam Hussein, an Iraqi photographer working for the European Pressphoto Agency was shot dead by a group of unidentified gunmen outside his home in Mosul. On Thursday Dina Mohammed Hassan, a correspondent for Al-Hurriya TV, was gunned down in front of her home in the Adhamiya district of Baghdad.

The deaths, which bring the total number of media staff and journalists killed in Iraq to 54 since the invasion last year, prompted a call for more concerted action by political and civil society groups to bring an end to targeting of journalists by IFJ General Secretary Aidan White speaking at the European Social Forum in London.

“All sides in Iraq seem to regard independent journalism itself as the enemy,” he said. “We must work together to defend journalists and to bring this senseless killing to a halt.”

White said that the IFJ was determined to continue its campaign for justice for 11 media staff killed at the hands of US forces. “Every killing must be investigated independently and where reckless or murderous action has taken place those responsible must be brought to justice,” he said.

There is speculation that the killing of Dina Hassan might be because militant groups may perceive Al-Hurriya as sympathetic to the US occupation since its backer - the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) - has friendly US relations. Local sources told the IFJ that Hassan had received unspecified threats to stop working for Al-Hurriya and had been warned to wear an Islamic headscarf.

The IFJ affiliate, the Kurdistan Journalists Association and Iraqi journalists’ groups in Baghdad say the killing of Hassan “is a clear example of targeting.”

Aidan White told the European Social Forum meeting that a new campaign involving a coalition of groups from civil and political society was urgently needed. “If we do not protect independent journalists we will never get the truth about this war,” he said.

He said that fresh efforts should be made to end the targeting of media staff and to secure the immediate release of kidnapped French journalists Christian Chesnot and George Malbrunot and their Syrian driver Mohammed al-Joundi.

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries