“I was carrying the channel’s logo but the security guys targeted me deliberately with a tear gas grenade,” says al-Jibouri, who adds that he tried to tell them that he was a journalist but that they ignored him. Al-Jibouri then lost consciousness and awoke later in hospital – he found out that one of the protestors had dragged him to safety.
“The security forces’ mind set is still the same,” al-Jibouri remarked. “They consider journalists the enemy, traitors or spies.”
Freelancer Majid Abdul Reda, who works as a cameraman, filming events then selling them to a variety of TV channels, says he was taking a picture of a protestor who had fallen on the ground. As he was doing so a soldier hit him from behind and he too fell. The soldier then began to try and destroy Reda’s camera. Reda says he tried to stop the man but the soldier pointed his gun at the hapless journalist.
“Who is going to compensate me,” complains Reda, noting that he believes the security forces target journalists more when they are covering events that the government does not want covered, like the demonstration. “That camera was worth thousands.”
Some Iraqi accounts on social media also took up the journalists’ cause. One picture widely circulated showed the reporter from NRT lying on the ground after losing his shirt. The reporter insisted on continuing his coverage while hiding behind a barrier. Other reporters were shown running with cameras amid flying rubber bullets and clouds of tear gas.