UNESCO chief deplores murder of three more Iraqi journalists
The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today condemned the latest killings of journalists in Iraq – two staff members of a Baghdad television network and an employee of a newspaper in the northern city of Mosul.
The body of Sarmad Hamdi Al-Hassani, 43, was found on 28 June, a day after the employee of Baghdad TV was abducted in the Al-Jami’a quarter of the Iraqi capital. His colleague, Mohammed Hilal Karji, was abducted and killed earlier last month. In April, the Deputy Director of the same television network and one of his assistants were killed after a truck laden with explosives was driven at the network’s building and gunmen then opened fire.
“This determination says a lot about the deliberate will of the criminals to eliminate all the voices which upset them and to finish with freedom of expression,” UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a statement issued at the agency’s headquarters in Paris.
In a separate attack, the body of Louaï Souleimane, who worked for the newspaper Nineveh, which is published by a Christian association, was found riddled with bullets in the city of Mosul on 28 June.
Mr. Matsuura reiterated his previous calls for more measures to protect media professionals in Iraq, which has become the most dangerous place in the world for journalists.
According to Reporters without Borders, at least 191 journalists and media assistants have been killed in Iraq since United States-led forces invaded in March 2003 and two others remain missing. Some 35 people have died since the start of this year.
UNESCO is the only UN agency mandated to defend the freedom of the press and freedom of expression.