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Targeting Journalists in Iraq

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Targeting Journalists in Iraq - by Stephen Lendman

Truth-telling in Iraq can be lethal for journalists.

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March 19 marks Operation Iraqi Freedom's 9th anniversary. Brutal occupation continues. Thousands of US forces remain. 

Obama's alleged pullout repositioned troops nearby and left many there. Moreover, an army of paramilitary killers infest the country.

Overall conditions are grim, including millions of refugees, mass poverty and deprivation, rampant human rights and civil liberty abuses, and lack of basic services, including clean water, sanitation, electricity, health care and education.

Daily violence, chaos, terror, environmental toxins, and unmet human needs also punish Iraqis. So do lawless detentions, torture, lack of press and other freedoms, and daily misery. America destroyed the cradle of civilization. It no longer exists. The loss is incalculable.

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Lack of press freedom alone is troubling. In February 2011, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report titled, "At a Crossroads: Human Rights in Iraq Eight Years after the US-Led Invasion."

Topics covered included targeting female leaders and activists, human trafficking and forced prostitution, family violence, torturing detainees, refugees including internally displaced ones, the invisible impacts of war, and suppression of freedom including against journalists.

HRW's section headlined, "Harassment, Threats, and Assaults against Journalists" discussed "numerous abuses" they face for exposing corruption and other official wrongdoing.

Journalists doing it face enormous risks. Two television presenter critics were "beaten by security officials on different occasions over the past two years." A cameraman was dragged from his car and assaulted.

Others are arrested or receive death threats. One journalist said he received them dozens of times. One dated September 24, 2009 read:

"We will behead those who contribute to the perversion and corruptition of the lands of Islam."

Another said, "Dig your grave, sew your death shroud, and write your will. Be prepared for your fate of death."

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After publishing a 2006 article on high-level Basra city council corruption, death threats forced a local journalist into hiding for his safety. He "paid a high price" for writing truthfully.

Other journalists told HRW that Baghdad and Basra security forces prevent them from filming or taking photographs in public. Terror attack sites are especially sensitive. On May 13, 2007, the Interior Ministry banned photographing bombing scenes. Allegedly it's to let police secure affected areas and help victims. In fact, it's to suppress truth.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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