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NUJ marks human rights day by calling for an end to attacks

10 December 2013

Tuesday 10 December is international human rights day -  a day set aside by the United Nations to recognise the struggle for human rights, including labour rights.

The NUJ is seriously concerned about the recent attacks on members and colleagues. Last week, an NUJ member showing a press card and reporting on student protests in London was arrested and detained overnight by the Metropolitan police.

Members are waiting to go on trial in cases of reporting in the public interest. Politicians in the UK have called for the Guardian to be prosecuted. During this year, NUJ members have received death and bomb threats, others have faced prosecution and attack.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"Tonight the NUJ is hosting a public meeting to discuss state surveillance, counter-terror powers and global strategies. Every day we stand up for journalism, but, today, we also remind the world of its obligations to achieve human rights for all. That means action to ensure the protection and safety of international and local journalists."

This week media agencies in the Ukraine have been raided by unidentified armed individuals reportedly dressed like members of Ukraine's special forces. Employees at the news agencies reported that the attackers removed documents, computer equipment and servers.

Colleagues in the Independent Media Trade-Union of Ukraine (IMTUU) and the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), have reported that nearly half of the 50+ journalists who were attacked whilst covering the demonstrations from 29 November-1 December have filed reports with police. There has been widespread violence against local and international journalists and the unions are providing practical assistance and support.

Jim Boumelha, IFJ president, said:

"We need to continue to campaign for basic rights and freedoms for journalists. We continue to demand an end to threats to press freedom and an end to impunity for violence against media workers."

Amid the turmoil and violence in Kiev and other cities across Ukraine the unions have taken a range of practical actions to support the rights and freedoms of journalists covering events.

The unions have:

  • Turned their offices on Khreschatyk street into a press centre where journalists can rest, recharge their phones and get access to the internet to check the latest events or send their materials to editorial offices.
  • Provided advice to journalists on their rights and their safety and collected information about journalist rights violations.
  • Helped distribute safety equipment including special "Press" waistcoats for journalists in the hope they will reduce violence against media workers.
  • Established a rapid response team to investigate and document all attacks on journalists.

Earlier in December, Radwan Ghariani, the owner of a radio station in Tripoli, was brutally murdered. He was found dead in his car by a police patrol on Sunday 1 December and reports say he had been shot. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called for an investigation into the circumstances of his murder and wants those who carried out this horrific act to answer for their crimes.

It is not known who killed Radwan Ghariani or for what reason, but his murder comes during an increase in violence in Libya in recent months. Tripoli FM, the station he owned, broadcasts exclusively in English and plays Western music. According to media reports, Radwan Ghariani had not received any death threats prior to his murder. Amid the escalating violence in Libya, the IFJ has called Libyan authorities to make every effort to ensure the safety of journalists working in the country.

Iraqi journalist Yasser Faisal al Jumaily was in northern Syria near the border with Turkey when he was killed on Wednesday 4 December. Yasser Faisal al Jumaily was a union member (IJS), freelance journalist and cameraman. He was kidnapped by an al Qaeda linked terrorist group in the Idlib region who then executed him. He had spent ten days in northern Syria where he was carrying out an investigative report for Spanish media.

Yasser Faisal al Jumaily was the seventh journalist murdered in Syria this year, while a high number of media workers have also been abducted in the country. Since the country's uprising in March 2011, it has become the most dangerous in the world for journalists, with at least 40 media workers killed since the Syrian conflict began. The Iraqi Journalists Syndicate (IJS) has condemned the "heinous murder" and demanded Faisal's body is brought back to his family.

On Thursday 5 December journalist Kawa Mohamed Ahmed "Garmyani" was shot dead in the town of Kalar in east Kurdistan. The IFJ has called on the government of the Kurdistan region of Iraq to carry out a thorough investigation into the murder. The Kurdistan journalists' Syndicate (KJS), have said their member Garmyani was gunned down at 9pm outside his house.

Media reports say that a few days before his murder he had announced on his Facebook page that he had documents relating to a corruption case that he was planning to write about in the local 'Rayal' magazine. As well as being editor for the Rayal magazine, Garmyani was also a correspondent for the 'Awene' newspaper.

According to reports, Garmyani had been involved in disputes with local politicians because of his investigative reporting and he recently registered a complaint with Garmyan police against one of them. The KJS has condemned the "cold blooded murder" and demanded that an independent investigation into the assassination is opened immediately.

The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS) has reported the abduction and beating of TV correspondent Saraa al Shehary in Sanaa and in a separate incident, economic media magazine reporter, Abdulsalam al Ghubary, was beaten and kicked by riot police while filming a demonstration.

The IFJ condemned a car explosion in Sanaa in November that left senior journalist Mohammed Al Imad seriously injured, while in October the IFJ called for increased media protection following a brutal attack on a delivery van for the Akhbar El Youm newspaper in the Yemeni city of Aden.

Another journalist was murdered on Wednesday 27 November in Iraq. The Iraqi Journalists Syndicate (IJS) said Alaa Edwar, a cameraman, was shot three times in the head and chest by unidentified gunmen and he died on the spot.

Another journalist, Wadah el Hamdani, a reporter for the Baghdad TV channel, was killed accidentally by a random bullet fired during a funeral in Basra on Thursday 28 November. Hamdani was shot in the neck by a bullet fired by mourners shooting randomly as an expression of grief at the funeral of the Sheikh Ghanim clans. According to the latest IFJ statistics, six journalists have now been killed in Iraq this year.

The IFJ has a long record in campaigning for international instruments to protect journalists and was successful in getting resolution 1738 adopted by the UN Security Council in December 2006.

International human rights and humanitarian law imposes obligations on governments to protect the rights and freedoms of all citizens and to provide justice and remedies for their violations.

The NUJ is marking human rights day by calling for an end to these attacks.

Tags: , solidarity, imtuu, violence, nuju, rights, guardian, baghdad, yemen, death threats, iraq, ukraine, broadcasting, ifj, kurdistan, turkey, syria, detention, un