JOURNALISTS' DEATH TOLL CONTINUES TO MOUNT
On 13 March 2006, Muhsin Khudayyir, chief editor of the weekly magazine "Alif Ba", was assassinated by unidentified persons who attacked him in his home in the Al-Ilam district of Baghdad. He was also known as Abu Risalah.
On 11 March, gunmen shot and killed Amjad Hameed, head of programming for Iraq's state television station Al-Iraqiya, in an ambush in Baghdad. Hameed's driver, Anwar Turki, was also killed. Hameed, 45, had run the station since July 2005.
The Mujahideen Consultative Council, which is influenced by Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack on its website, but those claims could not be independently verified. Two people have been arrested for the murders.
Al-Iraqiya, which receives funding from the U.S. government, has lost 10 journalists since March 2003, says RSF.
On March 9, Baghdad TV reporter Monsuf Abdallah al-Khalidi was gunned down by unidentified assailants as he was driving from the capital to the northern city of Mosul.
Al-Khalidi, 35, was planning to interview poets for his programme, which focuses on Middle Eastern poetry. Baghdad TV has been receiving e-mail threats this year because of its criticism of attacks by Iraqi insurgents.
The station is owned by the Iraqi Islamic Party, the biggest Sunni political group. Al-Khalidi is the third employee from the station who has been killed since March 2003. Reporter Maha Ibrahim was killed in July 2005, while cameraman Mahmoud Zaal died in January 2006.
Meanwhile, IFJ, RSF, CPJ and other press freedom groups continue to appeal for the release of three journalists who have been kidnapped by insurgents.
Freelance reporter Jill Carroll has been held hostage since 7 January, while Iraqi journalists Rim Zeid and Marwan Khazaal have not been seen since 1 February, when they were abducted in Baghdad by four gunmen. Zeid and Khazaal work for Al-Sumariya TV.
The "Christian Science Monitor", a U.S. newspaper Carroll reports for, has launched an Iraqi television campaign appealing for her release. It plans to run the message on Arabic-language satellite TV stations as well.
Visit these links:
- IFEX: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/222/
- CPJ: http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/mideast/iraq13mar06na.html
- CPJ File on Iraq: http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/Iraq/Iraq_danger.html
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=16718
- RSF File on Iraq: http://www.rsf.org/special_iraq_en.php3
- IFJ: http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Index=3772&Language=EN
- Updates on Jill Carroll: http://www.cpj.org/regions_06/mideast_06/jill_carroll_page.html
- Human Rights Watch Backgrounder: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/01/18/iraq12215.htm
- Iraq - the Media War: http://media.guardian.co.uk/iraqandthemedia/0,,883261,00.html
(Photo: Amjad Hameed)