Journalists and media workers from media organisations across the Asia-Pacific region join the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in commemorating the seven-year anniversary of two attacks by the United States in Iraq which resulted in the deaths of several journalists.
On April 8, 2003, an attack by US forces on Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel killed José Couso, of Spain’s Telecinco and Taras Protsyuk, a Ukrainian cameraman working for Reuters. The hotel has long been known for hosting foreign journalists.
On the same day, US forces attacked the offices of the Al Jazeera broadcaster in Baghdad, killing reporter Tareq Ayyoub.
The IFJ and other press freedom groups, including the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York, examined the Pentagon’s November 2004 report on the attack on the Palestine Hotel, concluding it was flawed and unconvincing.
The IFJ calls on US President Barack Obama to now set up a thorough inquiry, in the spirit of his stated vision of hope for peace and stability in Iraq.
This year’s April 8 anniversary coincides with publication by Wikileaks on April 5 of a video which reportedly portrays a US military helicopter in July 2007 opening fire on and killing civilians in Baghdad, among them Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and driver Sameed Chmagh.
Reuters has repeatedly requested this US military footage under US freedom of information laws, to no avail. The footage can be seen at the following link: http://www.collateralmurder.com/.
Today, the IFJ and its affiliates are writing to President Obama requesting that his administration take responsibility to explain the 2003 and 2007 attacks, especially to the families and colleagues of the victims.
In 2006, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1738, which calls on governments to protect journalists and media personnel working in situations of war and conflict, in accordance with their civilian status.
At the most recent meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva last month, the IFJ alongside Article 19 and the International News Safety Institute (INSI) welcomed a draft resolution on protection of journalists in situations of armed conflict.
The draft resolution recognises the “vital role played by the press in situations of armed conflict” and highlights “the large and increasing number of deaths and injuries among members of the press in armed conflict”.