Please take action on behalf of human rights defender Mr Hayder Hamzoz in Iraq.

Posted on 2011/07/26

Please take action on behalf of human rights defender Mr Hayder Hamzoz in Iraq.

Please copy the letter and forward it to the address provided.

Thank you for taking action on behalf of human rights defender Mr Hayder Hamzoz in Irap.

Target adresses:

Mr. Nuri Kamil al-Maliki,

Prime Minister,

Baghdad,

Republic of Iraq.

Letter:

Dear Prime Minister,

Human rights defender Mr Hayder Hamzoz has gone into hiding following an assault against him in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, on 22 July 2011, which was allegedly perpetrated by both individuals in civilian clothing linked to the Iraqi security forces and Iraqi army officers. Hayder Hamzoz is a prominent blogger and documentalist who runs a popular blog entitled Iraqi Streets 4 Change. He also organises the coverage of peaceful Iraqi protests over the internet and has set up a short messaging service which does not require subscription. Hayder Hamzoz was the subject of a recent Front Line news item dated 28 April 2011 available at: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/15006

On 22 July 2011, Hayder Hamzoz was set upon by eight individuals in civilian clothing while he was observing and documenting a demonstration in Tahrir Square. The unidentified individuals demanded that Hayder Hamzoz hand over his phone and camera which he had been using to record the demonstration, however when he refused to do so they began to physically assault him. Hayder Hamzoz then fled the scene and requested assistance and protection from Iraqi security officers positioned outside Tahrir Square. It is reported that the security officers then began beating Hayder Hamzoz and demanded that he hand his camera over to the aforementioned group of individuals in civilian clothing. During the demonstration, Iraqi security officers reportedly fired live rounds of ammunition into the air in order to disperse the protesters.

Some twenty minutes after Hayder Hamzoz had fled the scene, peaceful demonstrators were reportedly violently attacked by a group of individuals in civilian clothing. The attackers allegedly used electric batons. Although there were members of the Iraqi security forces present, they failed to intervene.

Since the beginning of July 2011, Hayder Hamzoz has received a number of anonymous emails and private messages on Facebook stating that he is known to the sender and will be attacked if he continues to publish information on the internet about the demonstrations held in Tahrir Square. As a result, Hayder Hamzoz disactivated his email account and Facebook page. Hayder Hamzoz is currently in hiding while he receives medical treatment for injuries sustained during the assault of 22 July.

I am concerned for the physical and psychological integrity and security of human rights defender Hayder Hamzoz, particularly considering reports that he has received numerous threats over recent weeks, and was assaulted by both the Iraqi security forces and individuals in civilian clothing. I believe that Hayder Hamzoz has been targeted specifically because of his legitimate work in the defence of human rights, in particular his work documenting and publicising the demonstrations held in in Tahrir Square.

I urge the authorities in Iraq to:

1. Carry out a thorough and impartial investigation into the physical assault perpetrated against human rights defender Hayder Hamzoz, with a view to publishing the findings and bringing those responsible to justice in line with international standards;

2. Take all necessary measures in order to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Hayder Hamzoz and permit him to carry out his legitimate work in the defence of human rights;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Iraq are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

Yours sincerely,

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Iraq: Human rights defender Mr Hayder Hamzoz in hiding following physical assault and threats against him

Posted on 2011/07/26

Human rights defender Mr Hayder Hamzoz has gone into hiding following an assault against him in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, on 22 July 2011, which was allegedly perpetrated by both individuals in civilian clothing linked to the Iraqi security forces and Iraqi army officers.

Further Information

Hayder Hamzoz is a prominent blogger and documentalist who runs a popular blog entitled Iraqi Streets 4 Change. He also organises the coverage of peaceful Iraqi protests over the internet and has set up a short messaging service which does not require subscription. Hayder Hamzoz was the subject of a recent Front Line news item dated 28 April 2011 available Here

On 22 July 2011, Hayder Hamzoz was set upon by eight individuals in civilian clothing while he was observing and documenting a demonstration in Tahrir Square. The unidentified individuals demanded that Hayder Hamzoz hand over his phone and camera which he had been using to record the demonstration, however when he refused to do so they began to physically assault him. Hayder Hamzoz then fled the scene and requested assistance and protection from Iraqi security officers positioned outside Tahrir Square. It is reported that the security officers then began beating Hayder Hamzoz and demanded that he hand his camera over to the aforementioned group of individuals in civilian clothing. During the demonstration, Iraqi security officers reportedly fired live rounds of ammunition into the air in order to disperse the protesters.

Some twenty minutes after Hayder Hamzoz had fled the scene, peaceful demonstrators were reportedly violently attacked by a group of individuals in civilian clothing. The attackers allegedly used electric batons. Although there were members of the Iraqi security forces present, they failed to intervene.

Since the beginning of July 2011, Hayder Hamzoz has received a number of anonymous emails and private messages on Facebook stating that he is known to the sender and will be attacked if he continues to publish information on the internet about the demonstrations held in Tahrir Square. As a result, Hayder Hamzoz disactivated his email account and Facebook page. Hayder Hamzoz is currently in hiding while he receives medical treatment for injuries sustained during the assault of 22 July.

Front Line is concerned for the physical and psychological integrity and security of human rights defender Hayder Hamzoz, particularly considering reports that he has received numerous threats over recent weeks, and was assaulted by both the Iraqi security forces and individuals in civilian clothing. Front Line believes that Hayder Hamzoz has been targeted specifically because of his legitimate work in the defence of human rights, in particular his work documenting and publicising the demonstrations held in in Tahrir Square.

اعتداء على مصور صحفي في ساحة التحرير\Attack Against Iraqi Photographer in Baghdad

اعتداء على مصور صحفي في ساحة التحرير\Attack Against Iraqi Photographer in Baghdad

قامت مجموعة تابعة لجهاز الأستخبارات العسكرية بإعتقال المصور الصحفي سعد الله الخالدي إثر قيامه بتغطية مظاهرة يوم الجمعه المصادف 22 تموز 2011 حينما قام 15 شخصا يرتدون الملابس المدنية بأعتقاله من ساحة التحرير و نقله الى مبنى الشعبة الخامسة في الكاظمية و مصادرة الصور و الأفلام التي وثق من خلالها المظاهرة و من ثم إطلاق سراحه و تركه قرب المقبرة الملكية في الأعظمية حيث سبق إطلاق سراحه تعرضه للضرب من قبل من كان يرافقه في السيارة و هو معصوب العينين

a number of army inteligence forces arrested the photo journalist Saad Alla Al-Khalidy during his covering in Al-Tahrir square on Fraiday 22nd of July 2011 when about 15 men in civil clothing arrested him and took him to the Khadumia prison known as “Shubaa Al-Khamisa” or justice camp and took the vedios and photos which he recorded and release him at the evening in Adhamyia district after beating him by the ones who gathered him in the car

another Attack aginst the Iraqi Activist Hayder Hamzoz

Attack aginst the Iraqi Activist Hayder Hamzoz

23 Saturday Jul 2011

 

Translation BY :- Wameeth Al-kassab

In a repeating case of attacks on civil activists ,journalists , reporters ,and press freedom in Iraq ,another attack took place today , freedom of speech is not protected by the press freedom law that had been issued by the Iraqi journalists league that received governmental support ,they along with several organizations in Iraq including the media protection center and the center to protect press freedom and anther many press and media protecting institute all who had no effective role in protecting the free voices in Iraq against the oppressive power of violence to silence the free voices of press and media
For the 2nd time the Iraqi civil activists hayder hamzoz was attack and beaten in tahrir square on the bab alsharqy distract in Baghdad, Iraq as he was covering civilian peaceful demonstrations each Friday
For those who donot know tahrir square it is a majore sequare and park in the center of Baghdad city where for the past few months Iraqi people gather there every Friday since last February to demonstrate for their legal rights for better life and services as electricity, water and fuel ,also many prisoners and détentes families came to ask for their relatives fats and rights ,they all call for reform of the governing system and clear the government from corruption
Hayder hamzoz is one of the activists who since the start of the demonstrations work to cover and post material to cover the activities of the demonstrators and the youth of the tahrir square ,he is a leading activists in calling for reform and stop corruption and activating human rights for the Iraqi people
On the 22 of April he was first attack by group of governmental thugs, they beat him and stole his touch mobile which he used to cover the gatherings and peaceful demonstrations, this happened in front of the Iraqi forces 11 platoon which is responsible to surrounded the demonstrators every Friday and oppress them with the help of a groups of civilians who beats and attack them, the spokesman for Baghdad army command operations described the attack as a normal fight among group of young people
The 2nd attack and the most recent took place on the 22 of July 2011 ,came after many threats send to hayder to close his facebook account and stop his blogs and work
Today demonstration suffered of infiltration of many thugs and governmental against in civilian cloths ,they stopped the protesters from burning the Iranian flag and started several anti-bath calls which lead to a conflict with the demonstrators , this lead to army forces to interfere and starts to shoot live ammunition randomly on the demonstrators ,hayder cover this shooting on his camera ,as soon as the forces notice that they attack him and a group of soldiers beats him and kick him with their boots ,also they stool his mobile and his camera and they handed it to the against in civilian cloths ,

To our frind hamzoz we say that your blood and tears worth more than anything they steal ,smile our brother as night must end and chains shall be broken as long as it takes ,and those who are attach to power and chairs should remember saddam 35 yrs end ,how his power was defeated in the end and fall and lead us to such stat
Smile ,we are used to take courage from your smile ,you and all the tahrir heroes

New Union Aims to Protect Iraqi Bloggers

New Union Aims to Protect Iraqi Bloggers

Increasing intimidation prompts internet activists to join forces.

By Abeer MohammedIraq

ICR Issue 375,

23 Jun 11

Growing threats against the fledgling movement of Iraqi bloggers have led a group of social media activists to create the country’s first-ever bloggers union.

Bloggers and social media users say that intimidation against them has increased, especially since the staging of protests against government corruption and inadequate services – inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings .

Internet activists say that they have been subject to threats ranging from abusive comments on blog posts to actual physical violence.

Hayder Hamzoz, a well-known Iraq blogger and the deputy head of the new organisation, was beaten twice this year while attending protests in Baghdad’s Tahrir square.

Hamzoz told IWPR that he was live-tweeting details of attacks by security forces against protesters from his mobile phone during an April demonstration when several men attacked and beat him severely before stealing his mobile.

“My mobile might have been taken, but the truth will not die,” the student said.

“I was covered in blood and security people were watching the men beating me. I shouted to get help, but they turned their eyes away.”

Hamzoz was again beaten in a protest on June 10, when attackers once more tried to steal his phone but were stopped by other demonstrators.

Although the attacks led him to twice briefly suspend his blog, active since late 2007, Hamzoz says he will no longer be deterred from continuing to speak out online.

“I am just expressing my ideas,” he said. “I am just saying what I think.”

Although Iraq has a low level of internet penetration, there are hundreds of active blogs, most of which are written anonymously.

In the absence of any body in charge of protecting bloggers and their rights, no statistics are available about the number of the Iraqi bloggers being attacked or targeted.

While journalists have legal protection as well as unions and employers to represent them,, bloggers have no such fallback.

Ziad al-Ajeli, the executive director of the Baghdad-based Journalistic Freedom Observatory, JFO, an IWPR partner, said, “Bloggers and social media users face more – and growing – threats than even journalists. They play a leading role in their societies and face a high risk because of this.”

Mohammed Hasan, the pseudonym of an Iraqi blogger, said he stopped his activism after recently surviving a bombing.

The young Iraqi, who had been blogging since 2009, said that attack happened as he headed to Mutanabi Street, the site of a Baghdad book market he used to attend weekly.

He said he believed he had been targeted directly due to his online criticism of the government crackdown on protesters and NGOs, as days before he had received an email which read, “You are a good guy and student, keep away from politics.”

Wameedh al-Qassab, an Iraqi blogger who fled the country last year and was often critical of the government, said the reason for his departure was the frequent threats against him and even attacks.

Al-Qassab said, however, that he has kept on writing while in exile. “I will not accept defeat,” he added.

The newly-formed blogger’s union is currently waiting for official approval and, although it will not receive government funding, members hope that gaining some legal status will provide them with both a degree of extra protection as well as highlighting the importance of their activities.

“One of the reasons we want to form a union for Iraqi bloggers is to provide some kind of protection for our members as threats grow against bloggers,” Hamzoz said. “For example, if a blogger is arrested then the union can provide him with a lawyer.”

Some bloggers have claimed that certain officials are behind the harassment, but Ali al-Mosawi, the head of the National Media Centre, a government body, rejected the allegation.

“Give me one number, one name for an Iraqi blogger arrested due to his blogging,” Al-Mosawi said. “[The attacks] are being committed by people who are not related to the government .

“We are not against freedom and we are not against freedom of expression.”

While there is no specific piece of Iraqi legislation which protects bloggers, the country’s constitution upholds the right to freedom of expression.

Ashwaq al-Jaf, a Kurdish legislator from the parliamentary committee in charge of monitoring the government’s performance on human rights, noted that her body had never received any complaints of harassment by social media activists, but added that bloggers should be protected.

“If their ideas express their stance regarding a particular issue, then attacking them is considered a violation of their human rights,” she said.

“Accessing the internet is one of our human rights in this country, after a 35-year dictatorship, so we should protect it well .”

Ammar Bin Hatem, the head of the bloggers union, said that despite the risks he saw a bright future for blogging in the country.

“Blogging is still in its infancy in Iraq, but it is spreading widely,” he said. “It will play a big role in making an impact in the community.

“If we keep on with our activity in inspiring people, we will be credited one day with helping bring about Iraqi democracy.”

Abeer Mohammed is an IWPR editor in Baghdad.

 

http://iwpr.net/report-news/new-union-aims-protect-iraqi-bloggers

Iraq’s news media after Saddam Hussein

The U.S. government pumped an estimated half a billion dollars into revitalizing Iraq’s news media after Saddam Hussein was ousted in 2003. It was the first time in three decades that Iraqi citizens had access to a free press, but the current state of news media in the multiparty republic is not what some had hoped for, according to a new report.

Iraq media experts at a recent panel organized by the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) hosted at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) discussed a CIMA report titled “Iraq’s News Media After Saddam: Liberation, Repression, and Future Prospects.” (You can download the full PDF report here.)

They included moderator Laith Kubba, senior director for the Middle East and North Africa program at NED; Shameem Rassam, an expert on Iraqi media; and Ammar Al-Shahbander, program director at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). The report explores what kind of media will be left in the wake of the U.S. military and monetary withdrawal and provides a prognosis for Iraq’s nascent independent press.

“The reality on the ground today is a far cry from what Pentagon planners envisioned for Iraq’s reconstituted press system,” said report author Sherry Ricchiardi, a senior contributing writer for American Journalism Review, who specializes in international issues. “Many of Iraq’s media outlets have become mouthpieces for ethno-political factions with the potential to inflame sectarian divides that have led the country to the brink of civil war.”

Ricchiardi’s report says press freedom continues to be an issue in Iraq.

“While the Iraqi government boasted of freedom of the press and the variety of media outlets, the freedom of journalists to cover certain stories or have access to information remained severely restricted,” she noted. “Iraq’s new constitution, ratified in October 2005, provided a framework for the protection of basic human rights and free expression. However, criminal laws that were holdovers from Hussein’s era remained on the books along with some put in place by the Coalition Provisional Authority, such as Order 14 on ‘prohibited media activity,’ which has been used to shut down media.”

 

Hayder Hamzoz, an Iraqi in his early 20s who runs the blog Streets 4 Change, told Ricchiardi: “You can’t move around easily [in Iraq], because everybody knows you and everyone in Baghdad has a gun. They can stop your voice with one bullet, they can beat you and no one will care.”

Despite not meeting expectations, some things have changed for the better.

“Today in Iraq you might pay the price if you investigate, but you defiantly paid the price under Saddam’s regime. [Now] when a journalist shows his press badge in the Iraqi checkpoints, they are feared and respected for their work,” said Al-Shahbander, adding that even Prime Minister Nouri Almalki gets nervous when the press publishes something he considers negative.

The majority of Iraqi journalists Ricchiardi talked to for the report had one simple message: “Please don’t forget us.”

 

The post originally appeared on the The International Journalists’ Network’s site, IJNet.org. IJNet helps professional, citizen and aspiring journalists find training, improve their skills and make connections. IJNet is produced by the International Center for Journalists in seven languages–Arabic, Chinese, English, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish–with a global team of professional editors. Subscribe to IJNet’s free, weekly newsletter. You can also follow IJNet on Twitter or like IJNet on Facebook.

 

 

http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2011/06/news-media-faces-challenges-in-post-saddam-iraq175.html

 

 

UN official urges stronger action to protect Iraqi civilians

Tuesday, 07 June 2011
UN official urges stronger action to protect Iraqi civilians

BAGHDAD/GENEVA/NEW YORK:  At the end of his 10-day visit to Iraq, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, today urged the government to do more to protect civilians from violence.  

“It is important that the government does all it can to ensure that civilians are protected from the ongoing violence, and that any person suspected of perpetrating acts of violence is held accountable according to the law,” he said.

Simonovic condemned the numerous cases of enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention and alleged torture that have been reported throughout Iraq.

“As a signal of the seriousness of its intent to tackle the problem, I urge the government to complete ratification of the Convention Against Torture as soon as possible” he said. “Respecting human rights, including while countering terrorism, is both a moral and practical thing to do. If the fight against terrorism makes martyrs of terrorists, it backfires,” he added.

He reiterated that torture is unequivocally prohibited under international law and cannot be condoned under any circumstances.

During talks with Deputy Prime Minister Roj Nouri Shawis and with the ministries of Defence and Justice, as well as with journalists and civil society representatives in Baghdad, Simonovic welcomed the government’s intention to develop a National Action Plan to implement the recommendations of the United Nations human rights mechanisms. He, however, raised concerns about the protection of civilians and the deteriorating human rights situation of women and religious and ethnic minorities, as well as attacks on freedom of expression.

Concerning the demonstrations that are taking place in various parts of Iraq, Simonovic noted that many of the protesters’ demands centre on legitimate calls for improved access to basic services, employment and better living conditions.

“Being criticized by the media or by protesters on the street is something that no government likes but as long as protests are peaceful and the government is democratic, they should lead to dialogue and not confrontation,” he said.

During his meetings in Erbil with Kurdistan’s President Massoud Barzani, Prime Minister Barham Salih and Speaker of Parliament Kamal Kirkuki, Simonovic raised concerns relating to the protection of women and freedom of expression. He proposed to the government to establish an independent national body to monitor respect for the human rights of all detainees.

“I was encouraged to see that the Prime Minister – a torture victim himself – strongly supported our proposal to establish such a body. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq stand ready to provide technical assistance for the establishment of such a body in line with international human rights standards,” he said.

Simonovic visited Dahouk prison in Kurdistan, including its Asayish Gishti wing where suspects of terrorist acts are detained.

“Detention conditions that I saw in this prison seemed acceptable,” he said. “However, during the initial investigation phase, people are detained longer than the law allows – which is not acceptable. The rule of law should be strictly enforced – otherwise, it is rendered meaningless.”

Because of extreme weather conditions, Simonovic was unable to undertake a planned visit to Camp New Iraq, also known as Camp Ashraf, where some 34 people were killed during a security operation on April 8.

“Investigations into the tragic events that took place there in April must be thorough and impartial,” he said. “Iraqi laws should be respected in Camp Ashraf, but so should the human rights of the residents. A long-term solution must be found recognizing the wishes of the Government, but also respecting each resident’s individual consent to be relocated or repatriated.”

For media inquiries, please contact Fred Kirungi in New York (kirungi@un.org;
+1-917-367-3431) or Ravina Shamdasani in Geneva (+ 41 22 917 9310; rshamdasani@ohchr.org )



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