» In Iraq, the Palestine and Sheraton hotels in Baghdad – where most of the foreign correspondents in Iraq are based – were attacked on 24 October, seriously injuring nine journalists and media assistants. The attacks, which were carried out by suicide bombers who blew up the vehicles they were driving in, killed a total of 17 hotel employees and passers-by. According to reports, the attacks were directly targeted at foreign journalists working in Iraq. Five of the nine injured journalists work for Al Hurra TV (the US-sponsored satellite TV channel in Arabic), two for the international television arm of The Associated Press (APTN), and two for Radio Nwowa.
» In Tunisia, eight opposition figures began a hunger strike on 18 October to demand respect for freedom of expression and association in Tunisia and the release of all prisoners of conscience. One of the aims of the “18 October Movement” is to draw the international community’s attention to the many violations of basic freedoms in Tunisia although the country is hosting the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) on 16-18 November 2005.
The people on hunger strike are: Ahmed Najib Chabbi, the secretary general of the Progressive Democratic Party; Hamma Hammami, the spokesperson of the Tunisian Communist Workers’ Party; Abderraouf Ayadi, the vice president of the Tunisian congress; Ayachi Hammami, the president of the Mohammed Abbou defense committee and secretary general of the Tunis section of the Tunisian Human Rights League; Mohamed Nouri, the chairperson of the International Association for the Support of Political Prisoners; Mokhtar Yahyaoui, a judge and president of the Centre for the Independence of the Judiciary and Bar; Samir Dilou, a lawyer and human rights activist; and Lotfi Hajji, the head of the Tunisian Journalists Union (SJT).
According to reports, the eight are feeling weak, having low blood pressure and trouble sleeping. Some of them are beginning to show symptoms of dehydration.
Sources for the alerts:
Arab Press Freedom Watch (AFPW), London
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), New York
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Brussels, Belgium
International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), Canada
International Press Institute (IPI), Vienna, Austria
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), France