Tuesday, 6 May 2008

What a shame...

I just heard from a friend of mine that the prestigious American news agency, the Associated Press (AP) still treats its Iraqi employees in Baghdad office with a very humiliated way: they have to get searched twice before they get inside the office and they have to bring food with them, like construction workers, as they are not allowed to enter the kitchen and eat like other foreign staff.

What a shame....such companies must be grateful to those Iraqi employees because they are the ones who are behind their success in this war-devastated country as they have the big role in the work as we all know that the foreign journalist can't go out and do stories except to the Green Zone area.

But fortunately this is not the case with all news companies.

For instance, at the one I work with there is food for all of the employees....don't get me wrong with this as it is not a matter of food but instead it is a matter of showing respect to the other and let those real heroes feel they are partners with their foreign colleagues and their employer is not an extension to the U.S. occupation on their land.

Moreover, none of those AP's Iraqi employees has a written contract but instead they only have vocal ones and of course the purpose of this is clear: AP wants to make its obligations toward those people unclear and leave these obligations be decided personally unlike the foreigners who have their employer's commitments clear in their contacts before going to this war-torn country.

Another thing I heard from my friend is that AP is facing a lawsuit which has been filed by two of its former Iraqi employees at an Iraqi court as they were not paid the appropriate compensation when AP dismissed them last year.It is because they had no contracts to protect their rights so that they have to fight.

It is something really hurtful and shameful that in addition to danger the Iraqi journalists face everyday, their rights are lost as such companies making use of the lawless situation in Iraq.

I say to such companies: this not the way to say "thank you" to those people whom support has been the main reason behind keeping your work up all these years in this country.

And to the Iraqi government, Association of Iraqi Journalists, local and international NGOs and organizations I say: you can't divert a bullet fired on an Iraqi journalist but you can protect his rights at least to keep the story of this country gets out to the world.

In another subject, the AP's Managing Editor for International News, John Daniszewski appointed Tuesday Robert H. Reid as Baghdad's new bureau chief.



Treasure of Baghdad said...


Thanks for writing about this. I'm not surprised to read it because I heard it is happening in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times Bureaus.

Iraqi journalists who work at the New York Times are put in a seperate building and are not allowed to work with the Americans in the building where Americans live and work.

I even heard that the LA Times Office Manager does not allow his Iraqi staff from drinking bottled water in the office.

I am proud to say that when I worked in Baghdad for 2 1/2 years, me and my Iraqi colleagues were treated equally like any American journalist. We were appreciated to the utmost level and were always encouraged to write and search for the best news ever.

PS- I love your blog name! Very creative.

Mister Ghost said...

Hi Kassakhoon,
Good luck with your blog.

It seems like this revolves around an issue of trust. The newspaper companies don't trust their Iraqi employees (probably suspect some of them as having ties to the insurgency), and secondly, it's a tight financial market for the print media, so they try to cut costs, wherever and whenever they can. So, they try to use the Iraqi stringers are on the cheap.

If it makes you feel any better, think of all these corporations that give multi-million dollar bonuses to their CEOs, and then layoff their bottom rung employees (who need the money the most) to save costs.

The Corporate World is not fair :)

lelly said...

I saw this in the Times shortly before reading this post:

Iraqis allege sex abuse at the British Embassy


Ian said...

What a goddamn shame. I remember being similarly pissed off when my interpreters could not eat in the Green Zone messhall. Meanwhile bloated officers and state department personnel who had never been shot at a day in their life got to stuff their faces with all the Belgian waffles, doughnuts and gourmet coffee they could eat. Fortunately we only passed through the GZ 1-2 times/month but it still pisses me off to think about it.

Mayssam said...


Has your friend considered quitting his job may be? I mean why would he (she) still want to work with someone who sees him(her) as a diseas carrier?

"What a goddamn shame. I remember being similarly pissed off when my interpreters could not eat in the Green Zone messhall."

If Iraqis are not trusted why doesn't the U.S. military bring its own American interpreters ?
Why do Americans hire Iraqis if they don't trust them? that is if its really a question of trust.

kassakhoon said...


yes you are right...am trying to help him find another place to work.

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