December 15, 2018

Press Freedom

Iraq

Iraq May 2, 2011

H.E. Nuri Kamal al-Maliki
Prime Minister
Republic of Iraq
c/o Embassy of the Republic of Iraq
1801 P Street, NW
Washington, DC   20036

Your Excellency:

We write to add the voice of the Overseas Press Club of America (OPC) to the many protests against the continuing abuse and harassment of journalists attempting to cover events in your country.  The pattern of deliberate interference with press freedom is plain, unacceptable and a violation of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This month alone, three journalists have been fatally shot: one has been abducted while serving a prison term, and literally dozens have been assaulted, beaten and detained for varying periods.  Those killed include : Taha Al-Alawi, the head of the satellite television station, Al-Masar TV, killed in his car by gunmen; Asieh Rakhshani, a filmmaker, and Saba Haftbaradaran, a journalist working for the satellite TV station, Iranntv.com — both shot while trying to cover demonstrations at Camp Ashraf, a camp for refugee Iranians.  The abducted journalist, Saad Al-Awsi, the editor of the weekly, Al-Shahid Al-Mustaqil, was kidnapped by gunmen on 25 March from Rusafa prison, where he was serving a one-year sentenceon charges of defamation and publishing classified information after writing articles criticizing the political situation and Your Excellency in particular.

Most recently, dozens of journalists have been physically attacked and arrested while covering demonstrations in Iraqi Kurdistan, and some have been indiscriminately shot at with live ammunition.  With our colleagues at Reporters Without Borders, we must conclude that the security forces are systematically hunting down journalists, abusing them, and in some cases, bringing them to trial and convicting them.  We urge you to guarantee the safety of journalists and their right to work freely anywhere in Iraq.

The OPC, which has defended press freedom around the world for more than 70 years, recognizes the difficulty of establishing a democracy in Iraq after the Saddam Hussein regime.  But one of the first imperatives of a free society is to ensure that all its citizens get unhampered information and opinions from journalists operating without hindrance from the authorities.  We urge you to make that a top priority.

Respectfully yours,
Jeremy Main
Larry Martz
Co-chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee

cc:

H.E. Jalal Talabani
President
Republic of Iraq
c/o Embassy of the Republic of Iraq
1801 P Street, NW
Washington, DC   20036

Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee

Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Iraq to the United Nations
14 East 79th Street
New York, NY  10021
Fax: (212) 772.1794

H.E. Samir Shakir Mahmood Sumaida’ie
Ambassador of Iraq to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the Republic of Iraq
1801 P Street, NW
Washington, DC  20036

H.E. James F. Jeffrey
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq
Embassy of the United States of America
Baghdad
Iraq
irc-baghdad@state.gov

News Editor
Al-Jazeera
Qatar
Fax: (011.99.74) 442.6864

Hassan Fatah Pasha
Editor
Iraq Today
hassan@iraq-today.net
 

Pierre Taillefer
Executive Editor
Agence France-Presse
pierre.taillefer@afp.com

Maria Otero
Under Secretary of State for Democracy
and Global Affairs
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC  20520