Protest will mark US attack on Palestine Hotel

Journalists has called for an “international day of protest” on 8 April to mark the first anniversary of the deaths of Taras Protsyuk and José Couso, the journalists killed when US troops opened fire on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad.

The call came as the number of journalists killed since the outbreak of the war in Iraq rose to an estimated 36.

The IFJ said a failure by the Pentagon “to properly explain” the deaths of the journalists at the hands of coalition troops since the war began had caused anger among journalists worldwide.

On 26 March, Burhan Mohamed Mazhour, a freelance cameraman working for US-based ABC News, was killed by US soldiers in Fallujah.

On the same day Omar Kamal, an Iraqi translator working for weekly news magazine Time, died from as yet unidentified gunshot wounds sustained two days earlier.

On 18 March, Iraqi journalists Ali Abdel Aziz and Ali al-Khatib, both working for the Dubai-based Al Arabiya network were killed by US soldiers near a checkpoint in Baghdad.

This week the US military acknowledged it was responsible for their deaths but insisted its soldiers “were acting within the rules of engagement”, when they killed the two men.

The IFJ added that death threats against reporters working for international media also sparked calls for “international solidarity with journalists in Iraq”.

“Journalism in Iraq is struggling to survive in an atmosphere of violence and intimidation,” said IFJ general secretary Aidan White.

“Coalition efforts to reform the media landscape will fail unless something is done to provide greater security to people who work in all media.”

The IFJ also warned that “arbitrary actions by the authorities to stifle opposition media will only make matters worse”, as it responded to the closure of the weekly newspaper Al-Hawza by the coalition administration.

It claimed several articles “were designed to incite violence against coalition forces and incite instability” in Iraq.

By Wale Azeez

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