Iraq: Photojournalist killed as another is abducted

Zaid al-Khafaji, a photographer and reporter in Baghdad, was abducted in the early hours on Friday, December 6. That same night, photojournalist Ahmed Mehana was stabbed to death while covering protests in the city.

Credit: IFJ

On December 6, two photojournalists were attacked in Baghdad.

In the morning of 6 December, Zaid al-Khafaji, 22,  was reported missing by his family, when he suddenly disappeared after knocking on the family's door. A video of the kidnapping can be viewed on the Al Hurranews website. Al-Khafaji was walking home from Tahrir Square, where he had been documenting the protests since the beginning of December. 

A relative told The Middle East Eye: "Zaid knocked on the door at 4am. We heard screaming and shouting and when we opened the door, he was gone". It remains unclear where the journalist is being held and what condition he is in.

On the evening of the same day, 23 people were killed in a bloody attack on demonstrators, led by masked militiamen in civilian clothing and who arrived in white vans, according to a report by The Guardian. Amongst the killed was photojournalist Ahmed Mehana, who worked for Iraqi Media Network. Mehana had survived reporting on the frontline against ISIS. According to his brother, Mehana was stabbed in the back while covering the demonstration. 

This is yet another attack on Iraqi journalists since the start of demonstrations on October 1. The IFJ reported about a rocket attack on media offices in Baghdad on Noverber 17, in which a journalist was injured. According to an Iraqi national mechanism for monitoring attacks against journalists October 2019 was the worst month for press freedom in Iraq since 2003. 

The IFJ has raised its voice about attacks on Iraqi journalists several times in the past months. On October 10, in coalition with other international organizations, the federation published a statement calling on the Iraqi authorities to ensure the safety of media workers during the demonstrations across the country. 

 IFJ General secretary Anthony Bellanger said: "The situation for press freedom in Iraq has become critical and we mourn the loss of another brave colleague, Ahmed Mehana. We are particularly concerned by the fate of Zaid al-Khafaji and ask the Iraqi government to do its utmost to bring him back home safe and alive. We stand in solidarity with all journalists in Iraq who continue to report from the frontlines." 

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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