The latest series of bombings in Baghdad, yesterday afternoon, were targeted at the city’s main hotels, which house many Iraqi and foreign news media. The offices of the Al-Hurra TV station were damaged and many journalists sustained minor injuries.
Reporters Without Borders condemns this indiscriminate violence against Iraqi civilians but points out that the situation for journalists in Iraq has evolved a great deal in the past two years. Nowadays, the main problem for Iraqi journalists is unwarranted violence and gratuitous threats from the security forces (above all the police and army).
Here are details of incidents that have been brought to the attention of Reporters Without Borders in January alone:
Yesterday, the security forces denied Al-Baghdadiya TV journalists access to the scenes of the series of explosions that had just taken place at hotels in the centre and west of Baghdad.
Journalist Abass Al-‘Idani was threatened and beaten with a gun by security guards on January in Basra, km southeast of Baghdad.
Army personnel prevented an Al-Baghdadiya TV crew from continuing to film in the city of Mahmoudiyah ( km south of the capital) on January. Soldiers asked the crew to produce the permits they were supposed to have obtained from the city authorities before starting to film. The crew had been shooting the daily programme Yes’ed Sabah ya Iraq (Good Morning Iraq) which Al-Baghdadiya broadcasts live from the streets of different cities every morning from 7 to 8.
After a bomb went off in a market in Najaf ( km south of the capital) on 14 January, many journalists were prevented – on the provincial governor’s orders – from covering the scene of the explosion or going to the hospitals where the victims were taken. Cameramen Haydar Hussein Yaly of Afaq TV, Ali Algam of Al-Fayha’a TV and Haydar Salih of Al-Ettijah TV were insulted and struck in the face or body by city policemen, who also broke freelance journalist Ali Al-Tayar’s camera.
Police used force to turn reporter Sami Ez-Al-Dine and cameraman Esam Omar of satellite TV station Turkmen Ele away when they went to cover a party at the police academy in Kirkuk ( km north of Baghdad) to mark National Police Day on 9 January. Police officer Samad Mustafa Abdullah pushed Omar violently and threatened him. The cameraman complained to the Kirkuk police chief.
Police in the province of Maysan ( km southeast of the capital) issued a decree on 7 January banning journalists from doing any reporting in public places – including photographing public buildings or organising meetings – without prior permission from the provincial authorities. The ban poses a major obstacle to journalists, who now need a permit to gain access to information.
PRESS RELEASE / COMMUNIQUE DE PRESSE