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IFJ Congress: Silent march honours killed journalists

6 June 2013

IFJ World Congress

The talking stopped for 30 minutes at the IFJ Congress, as delegates marked their respect to colleagues killed while doing their job. Each held a red carnation to represent the 408 journalists who died in the service of their profession in the past three years.

The Freedom March left Dublin castle, by the Dubh Linn gardens and through the streets of Dublin in total silence. It was led by Beth Costa, IFJ general secretary, and Jim Boumelha, IFJ president, who stopped to lay a wreath at the monument to Veronica Guerin, the Irish crime reporter who was murdered in 1996 by drug barons.

As the marchers passed through the gardens, a lament was played on the uilleann pipes by Neilidh Mulligan.

The march ended at City Hall, where the carnations were collected by Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary National Union of Journalists, and Gerry Carson, NUJ Belfast and District branch secretary.

The IFJ monitors press freedom violations and campaigns for greater safety for journalists and freelances who are at greatest risk and have the least protection. It is a founder of the International News Safety Institute, which promotes practical action world-wide to increase the safety and protection of journalists and media staff.

The Freedom March by delegates to the IFJ Congress in Dublin © Maxwell
The Freedom March by delegates to
the IFJ Congress in Dublin © Maxwell

The NUJ supports its work by campaigning internationally for press and trade union freedom. It lobbies governments where journalists are jailed and works with the international community to demand that the killers of media workers are brought to account.

The union's Belfast and District branch marked the Congress by focusing on world safety and inviting a panel of national and international speakers, who presented practical workshops on safety for journalists working in conflict zones and in public order situations.

Michelle Stanistreet, said:

"Journalists from Britain and Ireland have been among the victims of the failure of governments and the United Nations to protect and enforce the basic right to life of our colleagues while going about their work.
"As journalist trade unions, the deaths of our media worker colleagues are a deeply felt loss. But it is important that the public – and the governments which are meant to serve the public – recognise that the killing of journalists is an attack on the decisive role of the work they do and on the free flow of vital information which can help shape a better world.
"The IFJ will continue to take the lead in putting pressure on the international community to ensure that journalists are protected and those who are killed without redress as they do their job."

Beth Costa said:

"This Freedom Walk demonstrates our solidarity with those who have died because they were journalists. In saluting the men and women who have died because of their profession we also show our commitment to the profession of journalism and send a clear signal that the IFJ is vigilant in defence of journalists and journalism."

Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, said:

"This Freedom walk not only commemorates those men and women who have died in service of their profession, but also underlines our commitment to diversity and pluralism in journalism across the world."

Tags: , ifj, Dublin, press freedom, journalists killed, veronica guerin