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Kurdish citizen journalist kidnapped and murdered

(RSF/IFEX) - 28 March 2012 - Reporters Without Borders has learned with dismay of the murder two days ago of the citizen journalist Jawan Mohammed Qatna.

“The organization strongly condemns this murder. Activists and journalists who strive to keep the international community informed about the demonstrations across the country and the abuses by the authorities are the main victims of the violence of the past year,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“Kidnapping, torture and murder have become everyday practices, particularly by forces linked to the government. The UN special representative for Syria, Kofi Annan, must acknowledge these abuses in his plan to end the violence and conduct an investigation as soon as he is able.”

Qatna, an amateur photographer, was abducted by four hooded men from his home in the town of Derbassiyeh, north of the eastern city of Al-Hassakeh, at 8 pm two days ago. His body, which showed signs of torture, was found three hours later in a nearby village. The brutality of his treatment can be seen in a video posted on YouTube.

Uncertainty surrounds the identities of his killers. Some sources blame the pro-Assad Shabiha militia while others are still unsure. Whoever plotted and carried out his murder, the press freedom organization condemns this killing and hopes investigators will find the perpetrators who will then be tried and punished.

Qatna, 22, was active in the Kurdish youth movement and acted as a photographer for the Free Derbassiyeh Coordination Committee. He regularly covered demonstrations in the mainly Kurdish region and supplied photographs to various media organizations. Reporters Without Borders expresses its sincere condolences to his family and friends.

He was buried yesterday in his birthplace of Tel Kadish near Derbassiyeh. Several citizen journalists and four professional journalists have been killed since the start of the year, including two Frenchmen, reporter Gilles Jacquier and photographer Rémi Ochlik, as well as American war correspondent Marie Colvin and Syrian journalist Shoukri Ahmed Ratib Abu

Citizens and activists have taken over the baton from professional journalists unable to enter Syria or who are prevented from carrying out their work. They are playing an essential role in gathering and distributing information. Reporters Without Borders has previously reported on the arrest of many of them.

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Click here to read the full press release

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