UNESCO Director-General condemns the murder of three reporters in Syria
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today condemned the murder of two British freelance journalists, Naseem Intriri and Walid Bledi, on 26 March during an attack on the Syrian town of Darkoush, near the Turkish border. She also deplored the killing of Kurdish Syrian photographer, Jawan Mohammed Qatna, who died on the same day in a separate incident in Derbassiyeh, in the east of the country. Ms Bokova called on the authorities to ensure that journalists covering the conflict are able to carry out their work safely.
“The murders of Naseem Naseem Intriri, Walid Bledi and Jawan Mohammed Qatna highlight the terrible and unacceptable price being paid by journalists trying to carry out their professional duties in Syria,” the Director-General declared. “I call on the Syrian authorities to launch an inquiry into these crimes and bring their perpetrators to trial. I am deeply concerned by the number of journalists killed in the country since the start of the conflict. Media professionals must be able to carry out their work without fearing for their lives. Freedom of expression is a basic human right and the corner stone of democracy,” she said.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Naseem Intriri and Walid Bledi, both British journalists of Algerian origin, were working on a documentary about Syrian citizens crossing the Turkish border to flee the conflict.
Jawan Mohammed Qatna, 22, was a photographer for the Free Derbassiyeh Coordination Committee. He regularly covered protests in the area. According to Reporters without Borders, he was taken from his home by four unidentified men on 26 March and his body was found three hours later in a nearby village bearing marks of torture.
These killings bring to nine the number of journalists and media personnel listed since 20 November last year on the dedicated page UNESCO Remembers Assassinated Journalists.
UNESCO is the 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 the Organization is requested 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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