Iraq: Director-General condemns the murder of journalists on 9 May near Kirkuk

News and Press Release
Originally published
UNESCO's Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today condemned the murder of three journalists of the Al-Raad media company and their driver, on 9 May 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," declared the Director-General. "The appalling list of journalists and media professionals who have died in Iraq is growing ever longer. Never in history have so many journalists been murdered. Attacks against journalists constitute attacks against fundamental liberties. If the safety of journalists cannot be ensured, how can freedom of the press and freedom of expression develop? Once again I urge 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.

According to the IFJ, 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.

UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to "further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations." To realize this purpose the Organization is required to "collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image..."