Call for protests over media deaths in Iraq war

The International Federation of Journalists is calling for 8 April – the anniversary of the attack by US forces on the Baghdad hotel used by foreign journalists – to be a day of protest and mourning.

It wants journalists’ groups to protest over the killings of media staff during the Iraq war and what it claims is the “abject failure” of the Pentagon to adequately explain why journalists died.

Two cameramen, Taras Protsyuk working for Reuters and José Couso from Spanish network Telecinco, were killed in the Palestine Hotel, which was hit the day before Baghdad fell.

A US investigation cleared the military of any responsibility.

IFJ general secretary Aidan White said: “The attack on the Palestine Hotel was a shameful incident made worse by US misinformation circulated after the event and the failure to take responsibility for this attack.”

The IFJ’s renewed protest came as Reuters criticised the US military’s investigation into the detention and treatment of its staff in Iraq in January this year.

The IFJ is also raising questions about the deaths of Tareq Ayyoub, a journalist killed during a US air strike on the offices of Al-Jazeera in Baghdad; the deaths of ITN reporter Terry Lloyd and his colleagues Fred Nérac and Hussein Osman, whose bodies are still missing, in a fire fight between US and Iraqi troops near Basra, and the shooting by US soldiers of Reuters cameramen Mazen Dana in August.

The federation is calling on journalists’ groups to protest to US authorities and to their own governments on 8 April. Journalists will also raise the issues of safety with the United Nations and demand changes in international law to strengthen their rights in times of conflict.

By Jon Slattery

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