Iraq: Three journalists killed in January, murder attempt on fourth
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is extremely concerned about the increase in attacks on journalists in Iraq, where three have been killed in the first month of the year and a fourth narrowly escaped a shooting attack yesterday. The Iraqi authorities must provide journalists with more protection, RSF said.
In yesterday’s attack, several motorcycle gunmen opened fire on TV presenter Ashteaq Adel on a Baghdad street without managing to hit her. She nonetheless had to be rushed to hospital in a state of shock.
Ashteaq presents a segment on Baghdad-based Asia TV’s “Extra” programme in which she explains news developments. In her segment on 8 December, she called on the authorities to accept their responsibility for the heavy death toll in the wave of anti-government protests that began last October. According to Amnesty International’s latest estimate, around 600 protesters have been killed.
‘’The Iraqi journalists covering the protests are no longer the only ones to be targeted because now even those who talk about the protests during their studio programmes are also in danger,” RSF’s Middle East desk said. “The Iraqi authorities must do everything possible to shed light on this attempt to murder Asia TV’s presenter and to protect not only her but also all the reporters and photographers who are being openly targeted.”
Photojournalist Youssef Sattar was not as lucky as Adel. He was killed by a shot to the head while covering a protest in the central Baghdad neighbourhood of Bab Al-Sharki on 20 January.
Two Dijlah TV journalists, reporter Ahmad Abdelsamad and cameraman Safaa Ghali, were fatally shot while covering anti-government protests in the southeastern city of Basra on 10 January. Abdelsamad died instantly while Ghali died of his injuries after being taken to hospital.
January’s three deaths have brought the total number of journalists killed since the start of the wave of protests to six.
Iraq is ranked 156th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.