(WAN/IFEX) - In a 4 February 2002 letter to Iraqi President Sadam Hussein, WAN and the World Editors Forum expressed their serious concern at the continuing intimidation of exiled lawyer, writer and journalist Faiq Sheikh Ali.
According to reports, on 24 January 2002 Iraqi television showed the frightened faces of several members of Sheikh Ali's family, after arresting them in retaliation for his participation in Al Jazira's satellite television's "Conflicting Views" programme. During the programme, Sheikh Ali, who lives in exile in London, denounced the Iraqi government's record of human rights violations. As a result, Sheikh Ali's brothers, sister and other relatives in Iraq were forced to take part in a television interview to deliver the message that his sister will pay for his "mistake"; a remark which has been interpreted as a threat of rape.
WAN and the World Editors Forum are also concerned at reports that Feysal Al Qasim, the presenter of "Conflicting Views", has received death threats for hosting Iraqi opposition figures on his show. The threats to Al Qasim indicated that all means would be used to prevent him from hosting Iraqi government critics, even if this meant "his physical liquidation".
Send appeals to the president:
- reminding him that the intimidation of Sheikh Ali and Al Qasim constitutes a clear breach of their right to freedom of expression, which is guaranteed by numerous international agreements, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the Declaration states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers"
- calling on him to ensure that the intimidation of Sheikh Ali, Al Qasim and all other government critics is halted at once
- urging him to immediately end his government's systematic suppression of dissenting voices and to fully respect international standards of freedom of expression
His Excellency Sadam Hussein
c/o Interest Section in Paris
E-mail: [email protected]
Please copy appeals to WAN.