The International Federation of Journalists has warned that the killing of a freelance reporter in a kidnap attempt yesterday reveals that the situation for media workers in Iraq remains as perilous as ever.
Sarwa Abdul-Wahab, a lawyer who defended journalists and also worked as a reporter for a Kurdistan News Agency, was killed in Mosul in the north of Iraq when she resisted attempts by gunmen to bundle her into a car.
The killing follows the assassination of a radio journalist on April 25 in the southern city of Basra and this weekend's attack on Hiro Ibrahim Ahmed, wife of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who is also a journalist.
“These brutal killings illustrate that talk of an easing security crisis in Iraq is misplaced optimism,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “Journalism is as dangerous as ever, with targeted murders of reporters on the increase.”
The IFJ says that its affiliate in Iraq, the Iraqi Union of Journalists, has counted more than 270 killings of journalists and media staff in Iraq since the invasion of the country by United States troops in 2003.
“As long as political divisions and lawlessness persist journalists will be in the firing line,” said White. “We need to see more action from the Iraqi authorities to find the killers and to protect journalists while they are working in the field.”
Sarwa Abdul-Wahab was reported to be working for a news agency which has links to the Kurdistan Democratic Party. The radio journalist who died, Jassim al-Batat had been working for Al-Nakhil, a station linked to a Shiite political party opposed to Muqtada a-Sadr, a militant cleric opposed to the American presence in the country.
The attack at the weekend on the motorcade of Hiro Ibrahim Ahmed, Iraq’s first lady, who escaped unhurt, as she travelled to the Almada cultural festival at the National Theatre in Baghdad, also raised safety concerns for journalists. Mrs. Ahmed is also the editor in chief of Khak Magazine and a member of the Kurdistan Journalists Syndicate.
The IFJ-affiliated Kurdistan Syndicate announced that it was pleased to hear of Mrs. Ahmed’s safety and added its voice to calls for the central Iraqi government to take fresh actions to protect journalists in Iraq.
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The IFJ is the world’s largest journalists’ group with more than 600,000 members in 120 countries.