UN mourns slain French cartoonists

At UNESCO headquarters in Paris, the UN flag flies at half-mast in homage to victims of yesterday's attack on Charlie Hebdo. UNESCO/Pilar Chang-Joo

8 January 2015 – The United Nations agency tasked with defending freedom of expression, in solidarity with France, joined the country today in mourning those killed in the deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine.

Ten media workers and two police officers were killed yesterday in Paris when at least two gunmen ransacked the offices of French weekly Charlie Hebdo.

Like the French authorities, staff at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), headquartered in Paris, observed a minute of silence at noon today.

Later in the day in New York, the UN Security Council, ahead of a scheduled meeting on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, also heldThe international community cannot let extremists sow terror and prevent the free flow of opinions and ideas. a moment of silence to commemorate the victims of the Paris attack.

“UNESCO is more determined than ever to protect the free and independent press,” Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, said in a statement yesterday condemning the attack.

“The international community cannot let extremists sow terror and prevent the free flow of opinions and ideas,” she stressed.

Yesterday, UNESCO announced that it had lowered the flag to half-mast in respect for those killed and injured.

Calling the assault a “cold-blooded crime”, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it was a direct “attack against freedom of expression and freedom of the press - the two pillars of democracy.”

Among the dead are four of France's most renowned cartoonists: Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut (Cabu), Bernard Verlhac (Tignous) and Stephane Charbonnier (Charb).

Staff at UNESCO headquarters pay homage to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack in one minute of silence. Photo: UNESCO/Nora Hougenade

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UNESCO stands for Freedom of Expression. Credit: UNESCO