Saturday, February 12, 2011

UNESCO condemns murder of Egyptian journalist Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud

PARIS, France, February 11, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ — UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova today condemned the murder of Egyptian journalist Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud, who died of his wounds on 4 February. He was shot in the head on 29 January while covering the protests that began on 25 January in Cairo.
“I condemn the murder of journalist Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud,” said the Director-General. “Violence against journalists represents an attack on the basic right of freedom of expression and therefore a direct threat to democracy. Media professionals must be able to work in safety in order to nurture free and independent debate. I count on the Egyptian authorities to do all they can to shed light on this murder and bring the culprits to justice.”
Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud, 36, was covering the uprising that began in Cairo on 25 January for the newspaper Al-Taawun, put out by the Al-Ahram publishing house. He was shot in the head while taking photographs of the protesters from the balcony of his apartment, located not far from Tahrir Square, centre of the demonstrations. He died of his wounds six days later at a Cairo hospital.
Since the protests began in Egypt, the situation of the media covering events has continued to give cause for concern. Journalists have reportedly been assaulted and their equipment confiscated; others have been arrested. Numerous media have furthermore had their permits suspended and their satellite transmission blocked.
The Director-General reiterated her call for Egypt to respect the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of information as laid down in Article 19 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”

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