The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has hailed the extraordinary success of its affiliate in Iraq, the Iraqi Journalists’ Union, in holding in Baghdad its 20th congress attended by 1500 delegates and guests, which included representatives of sister unions in Iraq, Iraqi media, leaders of press freedom groups and officials from Arab journalists unions and the Federation of Arab Journalists.
“It was a stunning triumph for our union to achieve such a level of unity and solidarity among its members at a time when the whole country is threatened by increasingly rampant violence and even dismemberment” said IFJ president Jim Boumelha who opened the congress on behalf of the IFJ and its member unions.
Delegates converged on Baghdad from all over the country to vote a new president and vice-president, executive committee and commissions. Despite the numerous hurdles and risks involved, some travelled tens of hours to be on time for the opening and exercise their democratic right to elect their leaders. Many came from as far as Mosul, currently overrun by Islamic State militia.
These elections were said to be the most contested in the history of the union, with 5 candidates running for the post of president, 12 for the post of vice-president and 31 for six seats on the union’s Executive Committee. There were in total 71 candidates including three for the finance commission and three for the constitutional commission.
Prior to the congress, all the names of the candidates and also those of union members entitled to vote were published on the union’s website. For many hours, hundreds of union members queued up patiently in the searing heat to cast their vote.
The count took place immediately after and lasted all through the night until mid-morning the following day. The elections were conducted by a high court judge, Issam Al Jader, with the help of two other judges and 20 scrutineers from the same court.
In the closing session, Boumelha praised the union for being at the centre of the fight for social justice and professional rights in journalism in Iraq. “You have over the years shown great wisdom and resilience in navigating through choppy political waters and standing up for the interests of your members," said the IFJ President. "I congratulate you for the way you fought for just causes and your confidence and belief in your strength and your solidarity.”
IFJ Executive Committee member Moaiad Al Lamy was re-elected for the third time to be president of the union, having won 1079 votes out of 1178 votes cast.
For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries