16.09.2008 -

Director-General condemns death of cameraman Javed Ahmed Mir in Kashmir and voices concern over media safety

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today deplored the death of local television cameraman Javed Ahmed Mir in Indian Kashmir, and voiced concern for the safety of journalists in the region.

"I deplore the death of Javed Ahmed Mir," the Director-General declared. "I trust that the authorities will do all in their power to shed light on this crime and that the condition necessary for the media to exercise its functions be improved. It is essential for democracy and rule of law," Mr Matsuura added, "that journalists be able to exercise their profession freely and contribute to informed debate. Stifling debate only breeds frustration and violence, which is why I urge the authorities to support journalists in Kashmir."

 

Javed Ahmed Mir, 35, was shot while covering a demonstration near Bagh-e-Mehtab on 13 August. Kashmir has been subject to a wave of demonstrations over the past weeks linked to a dispute related to a land transfer.

 

According to Reporters without Borders, at least 32 journalists have been beaten by members of the security forces since the start of the demonstrations and about ten of them have been hospitalized. Three journalists are reported to have been attacked by demonstrators.

 

UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to "further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations." To realize this purpose the Organization is required to "collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image..."




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