May 15th, 2007 05:09 EST
Iraq: Murder of Journalists Near Kirkuk
The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has condemned the murder of three journalists of the Al-Raad media company and their driver earlier this month near Rashad in northern Iraq.
“I condemn the killing of journalists Raad Mutashar, Imad Abdul-Razzaq al-Obeidi and Ageel Abdul-Qader, and of their driver Nibras Razzaq,” said UNESCO's Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura on Monday. “The appalling list of journalists and media professionals who have died in Iraq is growing ever longer.”
He said the killings of media professionals in Iraq are unprecedented. “Never in history have so many journalists been murdered. Attacks against journalists constitute attacks against fundamental liberties.”
Mr. Matsuura repeated his call for the authorities to “take urgent measures to put a stop to these violent acts and to provide better protection for media personnel.”
Raad Mutashar, president of the Writers' Union in Kirkuk, was the owner of the Al-Raad media company which publishes newspapers and magazines. Imad Abdul-Razzaq al-Obeidi and Ageel Abdul-Qader worked for the company. According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), they were forced out of their vehicle, tortured and shot to death near Rashad, southwest of Kirkuk. Their driver Nibras Razzaq was also killed.
These last four murders and the death on 6 May of Russian photographer Dmitry Chebotayev, in a bomb blast targeting the American soldiers he was with, brings the number of journalists and media employees killed in Iraq in the last four years to over 200, according to the IFJ.