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Home > Country focus > Iraq > Victims of Isis: non-western journalists who don’t make the headlines

Victims of Isis: non-western journalists who don’t make the headlines

Sunday 19 October 2014, by The Guardian

By Jon Henley

Last week, Islamic State militants released a fifth video of the British freelance journalist John Cantlie, wearing a Guantánamo Bay-style orange jumpsuit and appearing to read from a script.

The film’s release was widely reported. Unsurprisingly: since August, Isis has released videos showing its beheading of two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as two British aid workers, David Haines and Alan Henning. All have been huge news events.

Less widely covered were reports that, on 13 October, Isis shot and killed the Mosul correspondent of Iraq’s Sada news agency in the city’s al-Ghazlani camp. Several local sources, as well as a Kurdish Democratic party spokesman and a medical centre, confirmed Mohanad al-Aqidi’s death to numerous NGOs (members of his family have since disputed the reports, and al-Aqidi’s fate is currently unclear.)

There are no doubts about the public beheading on 10 October, in Samarra, 50km south-east of Tikrit, of Raad Mohamed al-Azaoui , an Iraqi cameraman and photographer for Sama Salah Aldeen TV. Azaoui, a 37-year-old father of three, was killed with his brother after Friday prayers.

Isis had previously threatened him with execution because he refused to “cooperate”: in the territories it controls, the group demands media workers swear allegiance to Isis, refer to it by its official name, do no interviews for TV and send all reports for pre-approval by its media office.

The French organisation Journalists without Borders (RSF) says most local and regional TV stations have now stopped working in Isis-occupied territory as many of their employees have been either arrested, abducted or personally threatened.

But at least 17 Iraqi journalists have been killed in the past 10 months, RSF says, including four since the offensive in northern Iraq was launched in June. In Mosul and Salahuddin, Isis has publicly threatened nine by name, demanding they stop working and join Isis, or face execution.

In Syria, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Isis executed freelance cameraman Yasser Faisal al-Jumaili in Idlib in December last year. CPJ says more than 80 journalists have been kidnapped in Syria since 2011, and puts at “approximately 20” – overwhelmingly Syrian – the number now held by Isis, with no certainty as to their fate.

They include a photographer, a correspondent and a broadcast and assistant engineer from Orient TV, a journalist for Radio ANA and a Shahba Press correspondent. RSF also names a presenter for Syria al-Sha’ab TV; a freelance journalist for Radio Rozana; two reporters from the Azaz Media Center; an al-Fida cartoonist and an independent journalist and writer.

Of these journalists – neither American, nor European, nor the subject of a sick Isis promo video – we do not, generally, hear much.

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2014/oct/19/victims-of-isis-non-western-journalists-dont-make-headlines

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