Success! UNESCO Backtracks On “Journalist” Abdullah Murtaja

Following my post on terrorist Abdullah Murtaja (and that of Elder of Ziyon), our friend Gidon Shaviv of Presspectiva contacted UNESCO, who I pointed out had denounced his killing based on the assumption he was a journalist.

Here’s the response Gidon received:

newsreaderDear Mr Shaviv,

Thank you for the information that you have provided regarding Mr Murtaja. The original statement by UNESCO was issued on the basis of information available at the time which showed Mr Murtaja as a civilian journalist. In light of the new information regarding Mr Murtaja’s status as a combattant, the Director-General has just issued the statement (copied below), withdrawing the original statement, which is no longer applicable. The original statement has been removed from the UNESCO website. I would appreciate if you could diffuse the new statement by the Director-General to clarify the situation.

Best wishes,

Sylvie Coudray
Chief, Section Freedom of Expression

UNESCO Director-General Statement regarding Abdullah Murtaja
On 14 November, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, issued an update about the statement she issued on 29 August, 2014, regarding Abdullah Murtaja, in the context of UNESCO’s mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom.

The original statement issued on 29 August was in line with UNESCO’s policy of condemning all killings of journalists. During this week, information has been brought to the attention of UNESCO that Mr Murtaja was a member of an organized armed group — an active combatant, and, therefore, not a civilian journalist. This has come to light in a video was posted recently on the Internet with Abdullah Murtaja speaking as a member of an organized armed group.

UNESCO therefore withdraws the statement of 29 August.

“I deplore attempts to instrumentalize the profession of journalists by combatants” declared Irina Bokova. “The civilian status of journalists is critical, especially in situations of conflict, to ensure the free flow of information and ideas that are essential to the wider public and the restoration of stability and peace,” declared the Director-General.

This statement appears on the UNESCO site. In addition, UNESCO have now removed Murtaja from their memorial website.

I think a “booya!” is in order.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media