Senior UN official condemns killing of Syrian citizen journalist

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. Photo: UNESCO/D. Bijeljac

16 May 2012 – The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom today deplored the shooting of Abdul Ghani Kaakeh, a Syrian citizen journalist killed during a demonstration in the city of Aleppo.

“The targeting of civilians filming demonstrations in Syria is a criminal offence against the most fundamental human rights,” said the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova. “It is also an infringement of the ceasefire approved within the framework of the UN peace observers’ mission.”

According to Reporters Without Borders, Mr. Kaakeh, 19, was shot in the neck while filming a demonstration on 4 May. He is believed to have been targeted because of his activities, as he had been arrested several times for posting footage of demonstrations on the Internet.

Ten journalists and media workers, including Mr. Kaakeh, have been killed in Syria since the start of a protest movement, similar to others across the Middle East and North Africa, began in March last year. Related violence has claimed over 9,000 lives, mostly civilians, and displaced tens of thousands.

UN observers are currently in the country serving with the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) that was authorized by the Security Council last month, and which is tasked with monitoring the cessation of violence and supporting the full implementation of the six-point plan put forward by the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the League of Arab States, Kofi Annan.

Mr. Annan’s plan calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue that takes into account the aspirations of the Syrian people, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.


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