Saturday, July 18, 2009

WWB: the killing of journalists

WHAT WAR BRINGS: the killing of journalists
Iraq is one of the deadliest places for journalists. The killing of journalists started when the US forces reached Baghdad in 2003.
Reporters Without Borders expressed outrage at today’s US bombing of the Baghdad office of the pan-Arab TV station Al-Jazeera that killed one of its journalists, cameraman Tarek Ayoub, and wounded another. The nearby premises of Abu Dhabi TV were also damaged.
"We strongly condemn this attack on an neighbourhood known to include the offices of several TV stations," said secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of US military operations in Iraq.
"To ensure the safety of its journalists, Al-Jazeera’s management has been careful to inform the Americans of the exact location of its crews right from the start of the war. The US army cannot therefore claim it did not know where the Baghdad offices were.
…… On the 20th day of the war, the media toll is seven journalists and a media assistant killed while covering the conflict. At least five journalists have been wounded and two - Frédéric Nerac and Hussein Osman - both of the British TV network ITN - are still missing.
Those killed were: Paul Moran (ABC, Australia), Terry Lloyd (ITN), Kaveh Golestan (BBC), Michael Kelly (Washington Post), Kamaran Abdurazaq Muhamed (BBC), Christian Liebig (Focus), Julio Anguita Parrado (El Mundo) and Tarek Ayoub (Al-Jazeera).
The al Jazeera offices in Kabul were bombed by US forces in Afghanistan in November 2001. Of course, it is not just US bombings that are killing journalists in Iraq.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, there have been 139 journalists killed in Iraq since 1992. Afghanistan comes in at 18 killed. These figures were current to the beginning of 2009.

Carsten Thomassen, Daghbladet, was killed on January 15, 2008 in Kabul from a suicide attack. He was from Norway.

Abdul Samad Rohani, BBC and Pajhwok Afghan News, was killed on June 7 or June 8, 2008 in Lashkar Gah. His body was found with multiple bullet wounds.

A roadside bomb killed a cameraman for Al Forat and his driver on January 29, 2008 in Balad. Two more media workers were injured. A targeted shooting took out the head of the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate on February 27, 2008 in Baghdad. On April 25, 2008, a correspondent at Al Nakhil TV and Radio was shot by four masked gunmen in a town north of Basra.
On May 4, 2008 a freelance journalist was shot and killed while resisting abduction in Mosul. He had been threatened. On May 21, a cameraman for Al Afaq TV was shot in Baghdad. Locals claimed this shooting was done by an American military sniper. The military disputes this.
On May 22, an Iraqi journalist was found dead in Buhrez in Diyala province. He had been kidnapped three days earlier. A journalist who worked for Al Iraqiya TV was killed in a drive by shooting north of Mosul on June 17, 2008.
There are more listings for 2008, and more information about the journalist listed directly above, at the website for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

In the year 2007, there were 2 journalists killed in Afghanistan, and 32 killed in Iraq, and 5 in Pakistan.

In the year 2006, there were 3 journalists killed in Afghanistan, and 32 in Iraq, and 2 in Pakistan.

In the year 2005, there were 23 journalists killed in Iraq, none in Afghanistan, and 2 in Pakistan.

In the year 2004, there were 24 journalists killed in Iraq, none in Afghanistan, and 1 in Pakistan.

One particularly harrowing incident occurred on September 12, 2004 in Baghdad. Mazen al-Tumeizi, who was a cameraman for Al Arabiya TV, was live on air covering an attack on a US Bradley vehicle (that had been abandoned and was on fire) when US helicopters returned and fired on him and dozens of others. No one on the video at the scene was firing at the US forces at the time. Two other journalists were wounded in the attack. Mazen al-Tumeizi died on air, and after watching the video, I wrote this poem in response to that attack:

Violence on Haifa Street

They had several excuses:
to retrieve injured comrades- except there were no comrades there.
to return ground fire- the film shows no arms, no fire.
to destroy sensitive equipment left behind- they hit civilians instead.

Blood on the camera lens.

Thirteen dead at the end of the day.
Scores injured. Their crimes: reporting, curiosity,
celebration of knocked down Americans, or just walking down the street.
All recorded on film this time-both moving and still-
all recorded by stories, straight from those on the scene.

Three more would die of injuries in the days to follow, all unnamed,
Except for one- a TV reporter, whose last report was "I'm dying! I'm dying!"
Broadcast live.
His final act as a journalist.
His final act as a human being.

Just sixteen more civilian casualties
among the unreported tens of thousands.
The cameras know what happened.
The soldiers know what happened.
The people on Haifa Street know what happened.

Blood on the camera lens. Blood on the street.

Earlier, US troops were injured there.
Anger and a thirst for revenge pulled the trigger.
Our troops are in a country where the people are not our enemy.
We are growing our own enemies.

We are sowing seeds of prejudice with our failures of intelligence.
We are sowing seeds of hatred with our failures of compassion.
We are sowing seeds of rage with our failures of decency.
We are sowing seeds of revenge with our failures of integrity.

Blood on the camera lens. Blood on the street. Blood on our hands.
In the year 2003, there were 14 journalists killed in Iraq, none in Afghanistan, and 1 in Pakistan.

As the tread indicates, things are calming down in Iraq and getting worse in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Still, Iraq is the most dangerous nation for the press for the sixth year in a row.
In all, 225 media personnel (journalists and their assistants) have been killed since the start of the invasion by the coalition forces in March 2003. This has been the deadliest war of all times for the press. Almost four times as many journalists have been killed in the past six years in Iraq as in the 20 years of the Vietnam war.

Yes, we really did a number on that poor country.
The listings above are for the confirmed cases; there are more that are unconfirmed.
We also did a number on Al Jazeera.

The United States bombed its offices in Afghanistan in 2001, shelled the Basra hotel where Al Jazeera journalists were the only guests in April 2003, killed Iraq correspondent Tareq Ayoub a few days later in Baghdad and imprisoned several Al Jazeera reporters (including at Guantánamo), some of whom say they were tortured. In addition to the military attacks, the US-backed Iraqi government banned the network from reporting in Iraq.

From Fallujah in April 2004:

Just a few days before Bush allegedly proposed bombing the network, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Falluja, Ahmed Mansour, reported live on the air, "Last night we were targeted by some tanks, twice...but we escaped. The US wants us out of Falluja, but we will stay." On April 9 Washington demanded that Al Jazeera leave the city as a condition for a cease-fire. The network refused. Mansour wrote that the next day "American fighter jets fired around our new location, and they bombed the house where we had spent the night before, causing the death of the house owner Mr. Hussein Samir. Due to the serious threats we had to stop broadcasting for few days because every time we tried to broadcast the fighter jets spotted us we became under their fire."

If you support the continued occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan, or the bombing of Pakistan, then you support WHAT WAR BRINGS: the killing of journalists.

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