The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) denounce the situation of journalists in the Iraqi city of Basra following a briefing yesterday by Haider Ali Hussain Al-Mansoury, the head of the IFJ affiliate Iraqi Journalists’ Syndicate (IJS) in Basra and Jasim Mohammed Oglah, a member of the IJS Press Freedom Committee. The two journalists met the IFJ General Secretary and staff in Brussels and spoke of a climate of threats, violence and intimidation against journalists from armed groups and the city’s administration. The local administrations are also blamed for resorting to legal intimidation against independent journalists who expose corruption and abuse of office.
Al-Mansoury, who is also an IFJ safety trainer, is under death threat since the revelation on 26 August of a pamphlet signed by “Angels of Death” sentencing him to death which was distributed on the streets of Basra, the economic capital of Iraq. He went into hiding in the city but was forced to flee to Baghdad in September after a militia group attacked a house he was hiding in and city police refused him protection.
“We are appalled by the levels of violence against Al-Mansoury and all other journalists which puts their lives at a serious risk”, said IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger. “The Iraqi authorities must ensure that the law enforcement agencies take them seriously and provide adequate protection to all journalists under threat.”
Another media worker, Sayab Majid al-Iqabi who worked as a photographer the news site Iraq Times was kidnapped, tortured and killed last month while many reporters have been attacked by security forces for covering protests against local corruption in the local administration. “They think that if the journalists don’t cover the protests, the problem will be solved,” said Al-Mansoury.
According to the testimonies of Al-Mansoury and Jasim Mohammed Oglah, the safety crisis for journalists is not confined to Basra. The situation of media freedom is even worse in the city of Mosul occupied by the so-called Islamic State where they have ordered a news blackout. Seven journalists have been publicly executed by the militants.
Al-Mansoury urged IFJ support for Iraqi journalists, especially with safety training to equip them with life- saving skills and protective clothing to enable them to continue working in one of the worst countries for journalists in the world.
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 16
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 139 countries