How their Enemies get by with Killing Iraqi Journalists

By Mustafa Saadoun for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

How their enemies get by with killing Iraqi journalists

Abdul Qader al-Qaisi has become Iraq's first slain journalist in 2017. He was kidnapped Jan. 1, and security forces found his body Jan. 5, dumped on the road between Kirkuk and Baghdad. Abdul Qader al-Qaisi was a member of Kurdistan Syndicate of Journalists and he was also the lawyer of former Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi.

Two days before Qaisi's body was found, Iraqi journalist Afrah Shawqi was released after being kidnapped and held for nine days.

"I don't know who kidnapped me, but it seems they were an unorganized armed group," Shawqi told Al-Monitor on the sidelines of a press conference she held a day after her release. "I think I was taken out of the capital because it took hours on the road from where I was kidnapped until we reached the cell I was held in."

She said the kidnappers interrogated her about a story she hadn't written that appeared in a newspaper she no longer worked for when the story ran. Shawqi had, however, previously written about the pictures of dead fighters from armed Shiite factions that were posted in the streets of Baghdad, raising the ire of many supporters of those factions. A few days before she was kidnapped, she had criticized how weapons are chaotically spread among several armed groups and militias.

Shawqi's kidnapping stirred quite a buzz in Iraq, as activists and journalists formed a civil movement and took to the streets every day to call for her release. They said their actions were useful, and they plan to continue defending freedom of the press.

"The civil force, formed by organizations defending freedom of the press, human rights organizations and prominent journalists in Iraq, played a major role in Shawqi's release," Ziad al-Ajili, director of Iraq's Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, told Al-Monitor. "Journalists are concerned about being kidnapped or killed. However, they insist on continuing to do their job and unite against any action that seeks to restrict their freedom."

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