Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Media freedom in Iraq

For a long time now I've been pointing out that the "freedom" the Americans have bought to Iraq doesn't seem to include freedom of the press. First the Americans, and now the Iraqi interim government have imposed controls on the press aimed at preventing "unwarranted criticism" of the actions of US troops or Iraqi politicians. But now with a full-scale war raging in Najaf, the regime is trying even harsher tactics to ensure that the "wrong" message doesn't get out:

The move against reporters in Najaf, designed to intimidate journalists other than those embedded with US forces into leaving the city, began when Najaf's police chief, Ghalab Jazaree, summoned reporters to announce that they had two hours to start the return journey to Baghdad.


As a group of Arab and Western journalists were attempting to meet the Governor, Adnan Zurufi, to protest against the order, a second police contingent arrived bearing a written order to all journalists in the city to leave. The journalists at the Governor's office were turned back by a plain-clothes security officer who told them: "You have been warned. You have your two hours. If you don't leave you will be shot."

I've said it before and I expect I'll be saying it again: the "new" Iraq is looking more and more like the old Iraq with every passing day.