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Iraq War: Deadliest War For Journalists Since WWII

Iraq War: Deadliest War For Journalists Since WWII

Since March 2003, 230 journalists and media assistants have been killed in Iraq, making the war the deadliest war for journalists since World War II.

Reporters Without Borders, the human rights organization that works for freedom of press around the world, has released a report called The Iraq War: A Heavy Death Toll for the Media that claims that Iraq has also been the biggest market for hostages, with at least 93 abducted and 42 executed in the past seven years.

While Iraq was under Saddam Hussein, freedom of the press did not exist. After the U.S. invasion, Iraqi media publications started to flourish, and the U.S. established the Iraqi Media Network. In June 2004, the U.S. turned the country over to Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who voiced distrust of the media and prohibited the Qatari-based news network Al Jazeera from operating within Iraq. In November 2004, during the Iraq-U.S. resistance to the Sunnni insurgence, the interim government asked the media to report objectively, which it defined as “clearly the government position which represents the aspirations of the majority of the Iraqi people.” In 2006, under a new administration, media outlets were prohibited from blood, murder scenes or bombings, arguing that such exposure would incite violence and exacerbate religious and ethnic tensions.

 

From 2004 to 2007, at least one journalist died every month, but since 2008, the death toll has dropped considerably. While at first most deaths were caused by acts of terrorism or guerrilla attacks, 2005 and on showed more targeted killings. Journalists have also been subject to arbitrary arrest by both the Iraqi and U.S. governments due to suspicions that they may be collaborating with “the enemy.”

 

An overwhelming 87 percent of slain journalists were Iraqi. According to the report, one reason for this is the fact that as the war dragged on, the number of foreign journalists sharply declined. In addition, Iraqi journalists may be perceived as being a product of occupation forces, or traitors to their country.As a result, many Iraqi media outlets have closed, and journalists have sought refuge in neighboring Jordan and Syria.

 

Reporters Without Borders stresses that journalists are considered non-combatant civilians by the Geneva Conventions. The Pentagon has not recognized the special status held by journalists, and consequently, there is no protocol or special department to investigate the arrests or deaths by the U.S. military.

 

However Iraq must also take a leading role in protecting journalists. In October 2008, the Iraqi government created a special police unit to investigate journalist murders, but only 1 percent of perpetrators have been identified, and even less have been arrested. In addition, a proposed law that would protect journalists has been stalled by Parliament since September 2009. But with the most recent death of a journalist earlier this month, it is imperative that all sides take action to ensure that people can freely investigate and report the news without putting their lives on the line.

 

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77 comments

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12:29PM PDT on Oct 11, 2010

Someone has to report the truth and it's consequences. If one chooses this form of employ than regretably they know the risk involved. I think that some of these brave reporters get high from the danger involved. Unfortunately some pay the ultimate price with their lives.

1:17PM PDT on Oct 3, 2010

So llet's save some lives and end it. Good for both sides, eh?

9:08PM PDT on Oct 2, 2010

By being the one to get the big story first they are putting themselves in the line of fire. Competition is tremendous and the risks are high.

5:59AM PDT on Oct 2, 2010

Journalists should stay the hell outta the war zones..of course lifes at risk nomatter where you are!!

1:49PM PDT on Oct 1, 2010

Heidi - "Does it serve anyone to show such horrors world wide? Does it promote the cause of war because every picture is a decision made to show what will shock? How awful it is to see a human shot on our TV screens"

Heidi, really now, would you prefer to remain ignorant of seeing the 'Truth' of War. What if it was YOUR Family and friends, upon whom war was engaged? Wouldnt you want the World to hear and see the 'TRUTH' of the killings of the innocent people? The atrocity and barbaric killings of little children... Would you feel happy and content if they showed only the aggressors side of the war and not the victims(YOURS) reality of the TRUTH??

If you have the guts to witness the REALITIES of the pain and suffering of human beings, caused by WARMONGERS (america and israel) check out the "PICTURES" of WAR ON GAZA on my PROFILE PAGE. Perhaps it will bring out the compassion within you for the suffering of OTHER innocent human beings.

6:50AM PDT on Sep 30, 2010

The saying "One of the first casualties of war is the truth", holds as good today as when Dr Johnson reputedly floated the idea in the mid 18th Century. Consequently the purveyors of it are it seems, increasingly at risk. War necessarily involves combatants with different ideas and objectives but their methods are paradoxically very similar, invariably involving destruction of property and death of people, besides the ancillary fear, hatred, intimidation, disruption, injury and sorrow thus created. As each side attempts to secure the "moral" high ground, for which propaganda is an essential, reporters are bound to upset one side or the other. The more repressive the regime, the more limited the press freedom and the more dangerous the role of reporter. Meanwhile we, the mainly pacific majority, rely on reporters to convey the reality, not some manipulated version of it, for which we need not only brave individuals but also news institutions not in the pocket of the ruling elite. We remember combatants in memorials. We should at least afford the same honour to reporters who have died in pursuit of the truth.

6:48AM PDT on Sep 30, 2010

The saying "One of the first casualties of war is the truth", holds as good today as when Dr Johnson reputedly floated the idea in the mid 18th Century. Consequently the purveyors of it are it seems, increasingly at risk. War necessarily involves combatants with different ideas and objectives but their methods are paradoxically very similar, invariably involving destruction of property and death of people, besides the ancillary fear, hatred, intimidation, disruption, injury and sorrow thus created. As each side attempts to secure the "moral" high ground, for which propaganda is an essential, reporters are bound to upset one side or the other. The more repressive the regime, the more limited the press freedom and the more dangerous the role of reporter. Meanwhile we, the mainly pacific majority, rely on reporters to convey the reality, not some manipulated version of it, for which we need not only brave individuals but also news institutions not in the pocket of the ruling elite. We remember combatants in memorials. We should at least afford the same honour to reporters who have died in pursuit of the truth.

3:51AM PDT on Sep 29, 2010

congrats FLOR. K for conveying your comments boldly.

12:34AM PDT on Sep 29, 2010

Noted!

9:53PM PDT on Sep 28, 2010

Here's a clarification on a point in the article which I did not see in the comments:

Reporters are considered non-combatant neutrals in their roles as reporters. However, if the people who report also supply information/weapons/anything else directly useful for war to one side, they are no longer neutral as they have taken on another role.

To make matters clear: A reporter is protected, but what if he pulls a gun on a soldier? Then he is a combatant. If he supplies patrol-schedules to guerrillas, he is a spy. If he maliciously provides targeting-information on the tactical level, then he is a combatant. If he lets insurgents use his vehicle to set up attacks, gives them money to buy weapons, or otherwise gives them substantial aid in their war-effort, then he is a back-rank enemy. If he falsely reports victories or defeats, particularly in this kind of war, he makes it more difficult for one side to gain control of civilian areas and public support, which appears to be the primary objective in this war. There is nothing wrong with capturing an enemy, nor is there anything wrong with killing an enemy who is actively contributing to an effort to get you killed (whether or not he actually has a weapon).

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