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.