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UNESCO chief condemns assassination of journalists in Iraq

UNESCO chief condemns assassination of journalists in Iraq

UNESCO head Koïchiro Matsuura
The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has condemned the murder of two journalists last week in Iraq, decrying the “intolerable” death toll of media professionals in that country.

The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has condemned the murder of two journalists last week in Iraq, decrying the “intolerable” death toll of media professionals in that country.

Dina Mohammed Hassan, a correspondent for Al-Hurriya TV, was killed last Thursday in Baghdad, and photographer Karam Hussein of the European Pressphoto Agency was murdered Friday in Mosul. Their deaths add to the more than 50 journalists who have been killed in Iraq over the past 18 months, according to the International News Safety Institute (INSI).

“I cannot find words strong enough to condemn the deliberate killing of Dina Mohammed Hassan and of Karam Hussein,” Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a statement yesterday. “The sheer number of deaths endured by the journalistic profession in Iraq is intolerable, all the more so considering the essential role journalists have to play in the reconstruction of the country as a pluralistic democracy.”

Stressing that the democratic values of dialogue and open debate cannot thrive without free and independent media, he said, “The cowardly actions of those resorting to murder to deter the professionals who feed such debate must be stopped.”

Both journalists were gunned down by unidentified assailants as they were leaving their homes.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Ms. Hassan received unspecified threats to stop working for Al-Hurriya, which is backed by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. She is also said to have been warned to wear an Islamic headscarf. Before working for Pressphoto, Mr. Karam contributed photographs to the Associated Press.