'MAZEN DANA - REUTERS CAMERAMAN - DELIBERATELY MURDERED BY BUSH SOLDIERS IN IRAQ - 19 AUG 2003'
World Events of Significance
Reuters Cameraman Killed For Filming U.S. Graves: Brother
Tuesday, August 19 2003 @ 06:51 PM GMT
"'Mazen told me by phone few days before his death that he discovered a mass grave dug by U.S. troops to conceal the bodies of their fellow comrades killed in Iraqi resistance attacks ..'"
By Awad al-Ragoub
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM - The brother of Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana said he was deliberately murdered for discovering mass graves of U.S. troops killed in Iraqi resistance attacks.
"The U.S. troops killed my brother in cold blood," Nazmi Dana told IslamOnline.net in exclusive statements.
"The U.S. occupation troops shot dead my brother on purpose, although he was wearing his press badge, which was also emblazoned on the car he was driving," he said.
He also recalled that his brother had obtained a prior permit from the U.S. occupation authorities in Iraq to film in the site.
On Sunday, August 17, U.S. troops shot dead the award-winning Reuters cameraman while he was filming near the U.S.-run Abu Gharib prison in Baghdad.
His last pictures show a U.S. tank driving toward him outside the prison walls, several shots ring out from the tank and the camera falls to the ground.
"Mazen told me by phone few days before his death that he discovered a mass grave dug by U.S. troops to conceal the bodies of their fellow comrades killed in Iraqi resistance attacks," Nazmi said.
"He also told me that he found U.S. troops covered in plastic bags in remote desert areas and he filmed them for a TV program. We are pretty sure that the American forces had killed Mazen knowingly to prevent him from airing his findings."
Nazmi said that the U.S. occupation troops were slowing down the transfer of his brother's body to his hometown city of Al-Khalil (Hebron) in the West Bank.
"At the very beginning, the Americans refused to transfer his body outside Iraq. After Reuters intervened they offered to allow us to take the body to Jordan by road but we refused because of the state of insecurity in Iraq," he said.
"Thanks to Reuters international and diplomatic contacts, the U.S. troops reluctantly agreed to transfer the body on an army plane to Kuwait. From there, the body will be flown to Jordan and finally Palestine to be laid to rest," added the grieved brother.
Mazen's wife, Umm Hamza, did not rule out that the U.S. troops targeted her husband personally, noting they had agreed to give him a permit to film Abu Gharib prison and then he was directly shot dead by two U.S. tanks.
Resolved as she was, Umm Hamza said the death of her husband came as a bombshell, especially that she expected him to be killed while covering the developments in Palestine for his bravery and rare heroism.
"Filming Abu Gharib was his last mission; he was scheduled to leave Baghdad after getting the job done.
"I lost the dearest man to my heart, he was caring and was loved by all his friends and relatives," she lamented.
Mazen's camera was the Israeli settlers' archenemy, given that he exposed to the entire world their terrorism against the Palestinians and their wildcat outposts sprawling in four Al-Khalil posts.
His death cast a pall of sadness over the Palestinian territories and reporters, who mourned him as "a matchless colleague."
All international and local news agencies sent cables of condolences to his family, lauding his patriotism and determination to uncover the truth wherever it was.
The Palestinian information ministry and press syndicate issued two separate statements, condemning the attack on Mazen and the continued targeting of journalists.
The two statements demanded the U.S. to show some respect for human beings, particularly reporters, pointing out that Mazen was a distinguished journalist who did his best to serve his country and cause.
The ministry further urged all Arab and international press unions "to open a probe into this crime and expose to the entire world the murderers who have blood on their hands and put them on trial."
Furthermore, dozens of Palestinian journalists protested on Tuesday morning in Al-Khalil at the killing of Mazen.
The marchers put on a peaceful demonstration from the House of the Palestinian Press established by the deceased and other journalists.
In Bethlehem, journalists also held a mock funeral for Mazen, denouncing the U.S. occupation of Iraq and displaying placards condemning his "assassination."
A U.S. military inquiry has recently exonerated an American tank crew for firing on a Baghdad hotel housing journalists, killing two foreign reporters and wounded three others.
AND MORE ON THIS MEDIA MURDER BUSH TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR:-
US admits cameraman was shot dead at close range
By Justin Huggle in Baghdad
19 August 2003
The American army admitted yesterday that its soldiers killed an award-winning Reuters cameraman. Mazen Dana, a Palestinian, was shot dead by a US tank crew at close range while trying to film outside Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison on Sunday, after a mortar attack on the prison.
The Americans claimed that the soldiers mistook the camera Mr Dana was holding for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher - a claim that was immediately rejected by journalists who witnessed the killing.
"We were all there, for at least half an hour. They knew we were journalists," said Stephan Breitner of France 2 television. "After they shot Mazen, they aimed their guns at us. I don't think it was an accident. They are very tense. They are crazy. They are young soldiers and they don't understand what is happening."
Mr Dana's driver, Munzer Abbas, said: "There were many journalists around. They knew we were journalists. This was not an accident."
Mr Dana's colleagues said the tank was 30 metres from him when it opened fire. Television cameras do not look like RPG launchers: at such close range it should have been impossible to confuse the two.
A senior US Army spokesman offered condolences to Mr Dana's family, but said soldiers would not fire warning shots when they believed they were under threat. Lt-Col Guy Shields said: "I can't give you details on the rules of engagement, but the enemy is not in formations, they are not wearing uniforms. During wartime, firing a warning shot is not a necessity. There is no time for a warning shot if there is potential for an ambush."
The Reuters team had identified themselves to American soldiers guarding the perimeter of the prison, and they had been given permission to film. Nael al-Shyouki, a Reuters soundman working with Mr Dana, said: "After we filmed, we went into the car and prepared to go when a convoy led by a tank arrived and Mazen stepped out of the car to film. I followed him and Mazen walked three to four metres. We were noted and seen clearly." He said the American soldiers "saw us and they knew about our identities and mission".
Mr Shyouki described the killing: "A soldier on the tank shot at us. I lay on the ground. I heard Mazen and I saw him scream and touching his chest. I cried at the soldier, telling him, 'you killed a journalist'. They shouted at me and asked me to step back and I said, 'I will step back but please help, please help and stop the bleed'."
The soldiers did try to help but could do nothing. "Mazen took a last breath and died before my eyes," said Mr Shyouki. The 43-year-old cameraman leaves a wife and four children. "He was supposed to be going home today," a Reuters colleague said yesterday.
Mr Dana is the second Reuters cameraman to be killed by US forces in Baghdad. Taras Protsyuk, a Ukrainian, died when a tank fired a shell into the Hotel Palestine, which was full of journalists, as Baghdad was falling. In both cases, witnesses accused the US of knowingly killing a journalist.
Mr Dana was no novice in war zones. His hometown, Hebron in the West Bank, is a dangerous place. In 2001, he won the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) International Press Freedom Award for his work in Hebron. He was shot three times in 2000.
Reuters, the CPJ and Reporters Sans Frontières in Paris called on the American military to conduct a full inquiry into Mr Dana's death.
THE CPJ REPORT ON THE BUSH MURDER OF MAZEN DANA:-
Mazen Dana, Reuters, August 17, 2003, Outside Baghdad.
Dana, a veteran conflict cameraman for Reuters news agency, was killed by machine gun fire from a U.S. tank near the capital, Baghdad. Dana was struck in the torso while filming near Abu Ghraib Prison, outside Baghdad, in the afternoon. He had been reporting with a colleague near the prison after a mortar attack had killed six Iraqis there the previous night. The soldier in the tank who fired on Dana did so without warning, while the journalist filmed the vehicle approaching him from about 55 yards (50 meters).
U.S. military officials said the soldier who opened fire mistook Dana's camera for a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher. There was no fighting taking place in the area, and the journalists had been operating in the vicinity of the prison with the knowledge of U.S. troops near the prison gates.
In an August 18 letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, CPJ protested the shooting, stating that it raised "serious questions about the conduct of U.S. troops and their rules of engagement."
On September 22, the U.S. military announced that it had concluded its investigation into the incident. A spokesman for the U.S. Central Command (Centcom) in Iraq told CPJ that while Dana's killing was "regrettable," the soldiers "acted within the rules of engagement." No further details were provided. The results of the investigation have not been made public. A Centcom spokesman said other details of the report are classified.
Dana's soundman, Nael Shyioukhi, who witnessed the incident, told CPJ that he and Dana arrived at the prison with their driver, Munzer Abbas, in the late afternoon. According to Shyioukhi, several journalists were also in the area. Shyioukhi said that after a short while Dana suggested that they approach the prison gates to begin filming. At one point, Dana identified himself to a U.S. soldier as a journalist from Reuters and asked if a spokesman was available to comment on camera about the attack the previous night. The soldier replied that he could not comment, and no spokesmen were available. Dana then asked the soldier if he and Shyioukhi could film the prison from a nearby bridge. According to Shyioukhi, the soldier politely told them they were welcome to do so.
After filming from the bridge, located between 330 and 660 yards (300 and 600 meters) from the prison, Dana and Shyioukhi, who were wearing jeans and T-shirts, packed their equipment in their car and began to head off for the Reuters office. As they approached the main road to the prison, Dana noticed a convoy of tanks approaching and told Abbas to stop so he could film it. According to Shyioukhi, he and Dana were not apprehensive because the area was calm, and it was apparent that U.S. troops were in complete control. Neither Dana nor Shyioukhi were wearing flak jackets, and their car was not marked press.
Dana exited the car and set up his blue, canvas-encased camera with a white microphone facing the tanks while Shyioukhi lit a cigarette. Shyioukhi said Dana filmed for about 10 seconds, when suddenly, without warning, several shots rang out from the lead tank, which was approximately 55 yards (50 meters) away.
Shyioukhi ducked for cover then heard Dana scream and place his hand on his stomach, which was bleeding profusely. He said that within moments of the shooting, approximately six U.S. soldiers, including the one who shot Dana, surrounded them. Shyioukhi recounted that the soldier who shot Dana screamed at Shyioukhi to "stand back."
A doctor arrived on an armored personnel carrier (APC) after about 10 minutes and tried to stop the bleeding. The APC took Dana back to the prison complex for treatment and to get him evacuated to a hospital.
U.S. military spokesman Col. Guy Shields called Dana's death a "tragic incident" and promised to do everything to avoid a similar incident in the future. When questioned by London's Independent about the rules of engagement for U.S. troops, Shields said, "I can't give you details on the rules of engagement, but the enemy is not in formations, they are not wearing uniforms. During wartime firing a warning shot is not a necessity. There is no time for a warning shot if there is there is potential for an ambush."
Some journalists at the scene questioned how troops could mistake the camera for a weapon. And according to experts who train war correspondents, although one might easily mistake a camera for an RPG launcher at a distance, a camera would be clearly visible from 55 to 110 yards (50 to 100 meters)the distance at which Dana was hit.
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TVOTW - ICOPO
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