IPI condemns journalists killings in Syria
Those who uphold the free flow of information bolster their credibility, IPI says.
By: Naomi Hunt, Senior Press Freedom Adviser
VIENNA, Dec 5, 2012 – The International Press Institute (IPI) condemns the killing of journalist Naji Assaad (also spelled Naji al-Asaad) in Syria yesterday, as well as the recent string of targeted attacks perpetrated by both pro-government and opposition forces against journalists and media outlets.
IPI Press Freedom Manager Barbara Trionfi said: “We condemn the targeted killing of any journalist, regardless of their political affiliation. The right to disseminate information and opinions is a universal human right that people must be able to enjoy independently from their beliefs or the political situation in their countries."
She added: "Those who uphold the free flow of information, even when it is not in their favour, will bolster their democratic credentials and credibility in front of their fellow countrypeople and the international community.”
Naji Assaad was a journalist from the state-run Tishreen newspaper, where he had worked as the head of investigations and, recently, had been running the newspaper’s readers’ page, according to the Syrian Journalists Association (SJA). Assaad was killed near his home in the Tadamun neighbourhood of Damascus on Tuesday, reports say.
Recently, Syrian media workers have faced a deadly slew of attacks, with thirteen Syrian journalists, citizen reporters and media activists killed in November, SJA reported. Their names are: Mohammed Khalil al-Wagaa, Hassan Haidar Sheikh Hamoud, Jamal Abdel Nasser Malas, Samer Kherisha, Mustafa Kerman, Abdullah Hassan Kaaka, Mohammed al-Khalid, Mohammad al-Zaher, Abed Khalil, Hozan Abdel Halim Mahmoud, Basel Tawfiq Yousef, Mohammed Al-Khal and journalist and activist Mohammed Quraytam.
Thirty-eight journalists have been killed in Syria this year, according to the IPI Death Watch, which tracks the deaths of journalists who lost their lives because of their work or while on assignment.
The SJA says that 101 media workers, including journalists, citizen reporters and media activists, have been killed this year in Syria. Media activists are defined as non-professional who capture images and video of the conflict and upload them to the Internet, often with the partisan intention of exposing human rights violations by Syrian government forces. Given the lack of media freedom in the country and difficulties faced by local and foreign journalists in covering it, media activists have, alongside journalists and citizen reporters, played an important role in distributing information about the conflict.
Foreign journalists covering the Syrian conflict have also faced immense risks and currently three foreign reporters are missing. American freelancer Austin Tice has been missing since Aug. 13, while Palestinian journalist Bashar Fahmi, who worked for the American television station Al Hurra, has been missing since Aug. 20. They are believed to be in the custody of the Syrian government. Ukrainian journalist Ankhar Kochneva, who went missing in October, is believed to be in the custody of rebels. In November, the rebels posted a video to Youtube in which Kochneva, who had been working as a translator for a Russian television station, called on the Ukrainian and Russian governments to meet her captor’s demands.