250 journalists attacked in Iraq in 2021: watchdog

File – A journalist films amid burning tires ignited by anti-government protesters during a demonstration in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. (AFP photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — At least 250 journalists have been attacked in Iraq this year, a watchdog said on Tuesday. 

Iraqi Journalists Rights Defense Association (IJRDA) released its annual report on Tuesday, saying it had recorded 250 attacks on journalists in 2021.

“Most of those involved in the attacks were members of the security services,” IJRDA president Ibrahim al-Saraj said in the report.

Regarding the Kurdistan Region, the IJRDA said journalists were still subjected to constant attacks.

The IJRDA added the Kurdish security forces had prevented journalists and media channels to cover protests took place in the past months.

“The security authorities have strongly prevented all journalists from conducting any coverage of the violations carried out by the authorities of the Region,” Saraj said.

Despite instructions issued by the prime minister, threats and attacks against journalists continued, including detention and attacks on channels, the watchdog stated.

A wave of targeted killings against journalists and activists covering the protest movement that erupted in Iraq in late October 2019.

Protesters have largely blamed Iran-backed militia groups for carrying out killings that specifically targeted journalists and activists.

More than 30 activists have died in targeted killings and dozens of others abducted, some detained briefly, since October 2019.

In January, the Iraqi Journalists’ Syndicate said as many as 475 journalists had been killed in Iraq since 2003.

Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region, ranks 163 out of 180 on Reporters’ Without Borders’ 2021 World Press Freedom Index.

“The threats come from all quarters and are designed to deter journalists from investigating or publishing the fruits of their research,” the Reporters’ Without Borders said.

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