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UNESCO On Murders Of Iraqi And Pakistani Journos

UNESCO chief speaks out against murders of Iraqi and Pakistani journalists

15 February 2008 - The head of the United Nations agency mandated to defend press freedom today condemned the recent killings of journalists in Iraq and Pakistan.

Hisham Mijawet Hamdan, 27, was kidnapped on 10 February while shopping for office supplies in a Baghdad market and was tortured before being executed. His body was discovered by police on 12 February.

The murder of Mr. Hamdan, who worked for the fortnightly Internet publication Al-Siyassa wal-Karar, demonstrates "once again the dangers that journalists face every day when working in Iraq," Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said in a statement.

"While these professional men and women deserve to be praised for their bravery, further measures also need to be taken to ensure their safety."

The Association of Young Journalists, which counted Mr. Hamdan as a member, said he had of late been active in the group's campaign aiding families of journalists killed in the violence-ridden country and may have become a target after appearing on television regarding his work assisting survivors.

Meanwhile, Pakistani journalist Abdus Samad Chishti Mujahid was gunned down in Quetta, which is close to the South Asian nation's border with Afghanistan and is the capital of Baluchistan province, on 9 February.

"The intimidation and murder of journalists constitutes a crime not only against the individuals targeted, but also against the whole society," Mr. Matsuura noted in a separate statement.

The slain journalist, 55, was a photographer and columnist for the Urdu-language weekly Akhbar-e-Jehan. After being shot by an unknown assailant while coming out of his home with his wife, he died at the hospital.

Mr. Matsuura appealed to Pakistani authorities to bring the perpetrators of "this despicable attack on the fundamental human right of freedom of expression" to justice.

The Baluchistan Liberation Army, a separatist organization, has reportedly claimed responsibility for the murder, which has been condemned by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and the Baluchistan Union of Journalists.

ENDS

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