Saturday, 02 October 2010 00:45By Shamsul Islam Naz
Islamabad, Sept 30: Covering the news has always been dangerous, but in the aftermath of the intervention of US led forces in Iraq and Afghanistan immediately after 9/11 incident of New York, killing of media persons during duty has become order of the day.
Not less than 2,187 media persons lost their lives between January 1 2000 to Sept 30 2010 in 106 out of 203 countries of the world while performing their professional assignments.
During the same period 14 female journalists also lost their lives discharging their duties.
This has been observed in an in-depth study conducted by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) about killing of media related employees, including journalists throughout the world.
The study which was released by the PFUJ Secretariat here on Thursday said that 66 media persons have already been killed throughout the world, including 10 media persons killed in Pakistan and 6 in Honduras.
It was also observed that journalists and critical news gathering support staff – translators, fixers, drivers and the like – have died covering stories during this period out of which many died on international battlefields or on assignment relating to natural disasters.
Most fell in their home countries as they covered corruption, crime, unrest and other dangerous stories.
The majority were murdered by elements that feared exposure of illegal activities. The free flow of information on which enlightened societies depend for efficient government, business and public education, is constricted whenever journalists are killed, beaten, threatened and forced to work in fear of their safety and that of their families.
The study observed very shocking statistics which indicated that Iraq , Pakistan , Philippines , Cambodia , Netherland , Rwanda , India , Haiti , Afghanistan and Mexico were the top ten countries where killing of media persons had become a frequent feature.
It was also noticed that minimum deaths occurred in Armenia, Burundi, Brazil, Canada, Dagestan, Ecuador, Germany, Italy, Israel, Kuwait, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Australia, Gambia, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe, where only one media person in each country was killed.
There are also 97 countries of the world in which no killing of media persons came to light.
Out of the total killings, a maximum of 98 was chance murdered, followed by 65 target killing and 62 by bomb blasts.
Iraq remained at the top throughout the period (2000-2010) with 510 media persons killed followed by Pakistan where the number of the media killed was 162.
One of the most horrible incidents occurred in Maguindanao, Southern Philippines on November 22 in 2009 in which as many as 30 journalists were massacred. In that incident it was noticed that “Gunmen ambushed a caravan of political supporters and journalists on their way to file election papers, killing at least 30 media persons.
There are five countries in which for whole the decade only one journalist each was killed. There are 13 countries where two journalists each were killed.
As per study the chart given below indicates that Iraq is at the top with the death toll of 510, out of 2187 all over the world, followed by Pakistan with 162, Philippines 110 and Cambodia 97 from the Ist Jan. 2000 to 30th Sep. 2010.
In the category of murders cases, it was observed during the study that 98 took place in Iraq followed by 37 in Pakistan which is depicted in the following chart which also includes the remaining 8 countries.
Likewise, Iraq was again on top in the category of murders by target killing, with the figure of 65 again followed by Pakistan with the figure of 30 which is depicted in the accompanying diagram, which also includes figures of the next eight countries.
Similarly, the Iraq again came at the top position in killings due to bomb blasts with the figure of 62, again followed by Pakistan with the figure of 13 as reflected from the chart below which includes remaining 8 other countries.
37 media persons were killed in the rising trend of suicidal attacks which included 30 in Iraq alone, 5 in Pakistan and one in FRY, and one in US, a complete picture is being reflected in the below chart.
It was also observed that the rate of killings of media persons accelerated due to intervention of coalition forces in Iraq and NATO forces in Afghanistan .
The year 2006 and 2007 were the most fatal years for media persons in the world with 156 and 152 media persons killed respectively.
The death toll dipped to 112 media parsons in the year 2008 which spurred to 135 in the year 2009.
The other years in which the death tolls crossed the figure of one hundred were 2001 with 109 and 112 in the year 2008.
Although, dangerous and emerging trend of killing of media persons has sounded alarm bells for all media organizations throughout the world, and a number of organizations are aiming at capacity building of media persons, and training in reporting in the hazardous conflict zones, yet in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Combodia, Haiti, India, Lebanon, Nederland, Philippines, and Rwanda, the scale of the training and capacity building for safety of media persons could not improve the plight of the media persons.
The author is Secretary General of the PAKISTAN FEDERAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS. He can be reached on the following contacts:
Cellular +92(0)300 8665523