The International Federation of Journalists today called for safety training and improvements in working conditions as a top priority for Iraqi journalists after confirmation that nine journalists in Iraqi Kurdistan were among the victims of the terrorist bombings in Irbil last week.
“This unspeakable violence claims many innocent lives and, inevitably, journalists and media workers are those in the front line,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary, who led an international mission to Irbil only days before bombers struck at the offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) killing 109 people.
The bombers struck as the Kurdish community were celebrating Eid al-adha, the most important feast of the Muslim calendar, an event that receives extensive coverage by the local media.
The journalists who died were: Safer Nader, a freelancer; Abdlsatar Abulkarim, a photographer with Altakhy newspaper; Kamaran Mohamed Omar, a freelancer; Ayoub Mohamed Salih, a cameraman with KTV; Naseh Salim, a freelancer for Rzkari; Saad Abdulla, Editor-in-chief of Agrecluter magazine; Salah Saedouk, an Editor of Aletehad newspaper; Shawkat Shekh Yazden, a publisher for Aras publishing house; and Mhdi Khoshnaw, Editor-in-chief of Nwsary Kurdi. In addition four journalists were badly injured: Fdel Faramosh, a cameraman with Harem TV; Sami Slewa, a cameraman with Harem TV; Kasim Sherwani, Editor of a Kurdistan newspaper; and a reporter, Adnan Moufti.
The bombings were claimed by a terror group called Jaish Ansar al-Sunna, which said it had targeted the Kurdish parties because they were allies of the United States and had fought alongside US troops during the invasion of Iraq.
“The tragedy is that just a few days earlier journalists’ leaders in Kurdistan were joyfully united in celebrating their freedom as they welcomed journalists’ leaders from around the world,” said White. “Now all of us are united in mourning and solidarity over these shocking events.”
The IFJ and the Federation of Arab Journalists reached agreement with leaders of the Iraqi Kurdish journalists’ movement during the visit on a programme of support for Iraqi journalists, including an extensive programme of safety training. “This horrifying toll illustrates just how dangerous life is for journalists in Iraq and confirms that much more must be done to reduce the risks they face,” said White. “Safety must become a top priority for all assistance programmes.”
The deaths in Irbil bring to 31 the number of journalists and media staff killed in Iraq since the US and UK invasion of the country last March.
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries