International Women's Day
Three journalists deprived of their liberty
Reporters Without Borders pays tribute to women journalists under threat worldwide
Five women journalists have been killed doing their job since 8 March
2004. Florence Aubenas (picture) is being held hostage in Iraq, while
four others are imprisoned in Turkey, Maldives, Rwanda and Iran.
Reporters Without Borders pays tribute to women who suffer for the
freedom of expression.
As the world celebrates International Women's Day on 8 March, a French
reporter is being held hostage in Iraq and four others are imprisoned
elsewhere. Five women journalists have been killed doing their jobs
since 8 March 2004.
Reporters Without Borders pays tribute to these women journalists,
cyberdissents and Internet-users who, risking their lives and freedom
have carried on, for us, their work of informing the public. "We call
on the international community to campaign for the release of women
held in Iraq, Rwanda, the Maldives, Turkey and Iran. Most cases of
murders of women journalists have been carried out with complete
impunity. Governments must act for justice to be done."
Thirty-eight of the 636 journalists killed doing their jobs since 1992 have been women.
A woman held hostage in Iraq
Florence Aubenas , 43, veteran reporter for the French daily
Libération, was abducted on 5 January 2005 with her Iraqi fixer,
Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi. She had been in Baghdad since 16 December
2004. An award-winning journalist, Florence Aubenas has covered
conflicts for the French daily since 1986, in Rwanda, Kosovo, Algeria
Young Austrian journalist Sandra Bakutz was arrested by
Turkish police in Istanbul on 10 February 2005 accused of "membership
of a banned organisation". She faces 10-15 years in prison. She had
travelled to Turkey to cover the trial of around 100 extreme left
Fathimath Nisreen , 25, has been deprived of her freedom since
January 2002, for working with online newsletter Sandhaanu, which had
criticised human rights abuses in the Maldives. She was condemned to 10
years imprisonment for defamation. She has since been exiled to Feeail
Island where she is serving a reduced sentence of five years banishment.
Police in Iran on 2 March 2005 arrested weblogger Najmeh Oumidparva,
(http://www.faryadebeseda.persianblog.com - Dawn of Freedom) wife of
weblogger Mohamad Reza Nasab Abdolahi, who is also imprisoned. She is
three months pregnant and has been told she could spend ten days in
prison. Days before her arrest, she had posted on her weblog a message
written by her husband shortly before his arrest in which he claimed
the right to free expression and said he was "waiting for police
In Rwanda, Tatiana Mukakibibi, presenter and producer of entertainment
programmes for Radio Rwanda, has been imprisoned since October 1996.
She worked with the priest André Sibomana, former editor of Rwanda's
oldest newspaper Kinyamateka. She is being held in extremely harsh
conditions in Ntenyo, Gitarama. She has been accused of murder but
Reporters Without Borders has been able to show that there is no
concrete evidence against her.
In the last few months, some dozen women journalists have been arrested
worldwide. They include cyberjournalist Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh who
has spent a month in prison in Iran for contributing to reformist
websites. Her colleague Fereshteh Ghazi was imprisoned between 28
October and 7 December 2004 for articles she wrote. She came out of
prison physically and mentally weakened.
Women journalists killed in Somalia, Belarus, Nicaragua and Iraq
Kate Peyton (picture), 39, correspondent for the British
Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Somalia, was fatally wounded on 9
February 2005, when unknown gunmen fired a bullet into her back as she
was entering a Mogadishu hotel to meet the speaker of the transitional
parliament, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden.
Iraqi journalist Raeda Mohammed Wageh Wazzan, 40, was found dead on 25
February 2005 in Mosul, northern Iraq, five days after being kidnapped
by masked men. A presenter on regional public television Iraqiya, she
died from a bullet wound to the head. An Iraqi group linked to al-Queda
claimed responsibility for her murder but it has not been possible to
check the validity of their claim.
Journalist Veronika Cherkasova was found murdered at her home in Minsk
on October 2004, while she was investigating arms sales from Belarus to
Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Despite evidence to the contrary, police
insist on treating it as a crime of passion. The investigator has been
harassing her 15-year-old son.
In Nicaragua, María José Bravo, 26, was killed in November 2004, while covering clashes close to a polling station.
In Iran, the legal system is still obstructing the process of
bringing the murderers to justice of Iranian-Canadian photographer
Zahra Kazemi , 54. She died in Tehran on 11 July 2003 after officials
interrogating her in a Tehran prison inflicted vicious blows to her
Women journalists harassed because of their investigative reporting
Reporter Anna Politkovskaya of the Russian daily Novaya Gazeta has
suffered constant threats and obstruction to her investigations,
particularly in Chechnya. In September 2004, she was poisoned, probably
by Russian secret services, as she tried to reach Beslan to cover the
school massacre there.
In the United States, New York Times reporter Judith Miller
(picture) faces up to 18 months in prison for "contempt of court" after
refusing to reveal her sources of information to the courts in
connection with her revelations about White House manoeuvring.
Independent Colombian journalist Claudia Julieta Duque has received
death threats since September 2004 because of her reporting on the
murder of journalist and humorist Jaime Garzón.
Women who fight for husbands who have been imprisoned or disappeared
In Cuba, The Women in White, wives of the 75 political prisoners
arrested in March 2003, demonstrate silently every Sunday in the
streets of Havana to demand the release of their husbands.
Wives of imprisoned journalists in China and Burma regularly brave
official harassment to visit their husbands, bringing them food and
medicine that the authorities deny them. They also risk reprisals by
speaking to the international press. Zeng Li, the wife cyberdissident
Huang Qi lost her job and her home as a result of police harassment.
In Sierra Leone, Isatou Kamara, whose husband has languished in prison
in Freetown since October 2004, never stops updating international
organisations about her journalist husband's plight.
In France, Osange Kieffer and Fabienne Nérac, whose husbands are
missing, respectively in Cote d'Ivoire and Iraq, continue the fight to
find them. "Everyone tends to want me to accept that he has been
killed, but I do not agree, I must continue fighting. I need proof, so
do my children," said the wife of Fred Nérac, who went missing near
Basra in March 2003.
Reporters Without Borders defends imprisoned journalists and press
freedom throughout the world, as well as the right to inform the public
and to be informed, in accordance with Article 19 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. Reporters Without borders has nine
national sections (in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain,
Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom), representatives in
Abidjan, Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Montreal, Moscow, New York,
Tokyo and Washington and more than a hundred correspondents worldwide.
© Reporters Without Borders 2005