The executions of one journalist after another constitute war crimes, Reporters Without Borders says.
Reporters Without Borders condemns TV cameraman and photographer Raad Mohamed Al-Azaoui’s execution by Islamic State on 10 October in Samarra (55 km southeast of Tikrit in Salahuddin province) after he had been held by the Jihadi organization for more than a month. Al-Azaoui, who worked for Sama Salah Aldeen TV, was subjected to a public execution after Friday prayers. His brother and two other civilians were killed with him. Aged 37 and the father of three children, Al-Azaoui had been under threat of execution for refusing to cooperate with IS ever since his abduction in Samarra on 7 September. “The execution of one journalist after another constitutes war crimes,” Reporters Without Borders programme director Lucie Morillon said. “Islamic State is continuing its gruesome practices, in which it does not hesitate to eliminate news providers, especially those who refuse to relay its propaganda". “Journalists who refuse to submit to the Jihadis are risking their lives if they continue to work. As a result, reporting is becoming increasingly rare in the areas controlled by Islamic State, whether in Iraq or Syria.” Because of threats and pressure, most state and privately-owned TV stations have stopped broadcasting in territory occupied by Islamic State. Many of their employees have been arrested, hunted down, abducted or personally threatened. Islamic State aims to manipulate or monopolize media activity in the territory it conquers. It does not permit the free flow of news and information and only the most courageous journalists dare to transmit or share information of any kind. At least 17 Iraqi professional and citizen journalists have been killed in the past 10 months, including four since Islamic State launched its offensive in northern Iraq in June. Reporters Without Borders is without news of many journalists and media workers in the towns Islamic State controls. Iraqi cameraman killed in Anbar province Imad Amer Lattufi, an Iraqi cameraman working for the police media department in Anbar province, was killed yesterday (12 October) by the explosion of a roadside bomb targeting provincial police chief Ahmed Saddag’s convoy. Like the police chief, Lattufi died on the spot. Lattufi was accompanying the police chief during an operation aimed at recovering control of the Twei region northwest of Ramadi, the provincial capital, from Islamic State militants. Five other policemen were wounded by the blast. Iraqi areas that have come under Jihadi control such as Fallujah and Ramadi (in Anbar province), Mosul (in Nineveh province) and Samarra (in Salahuddin province) have become information “black holes” from which little or no news coverage is emerging.