A number of Iraqi journalists were detained inside a Baghdad hospital on Wednesday, and some were beaten and verbally insulted, according to a statement issued by a media rights watchdog organization in Arabic.
Approximately 15 correspondents and television photographers were accompanying the president of the Baghdad provincial council Mu'in al-Kadhimi at the al-Karkh General Hospital in western Baghdad on Wednesday morning as he visited the wounded in Tuesday's deadly bombing in the al-Hurriya district, the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO) writes.
An Iraqi force violated the journalists with beatings and insults, JFO writes, citing Ali Rashid, a cameraman for the al-Furat satellite channel. An altercation arose between members of the guard of the Baghdad provincial council chairman and the hospital guards, during which the forces treated the journalists roughly, Rashid said, according to the JFO statement.
Ali Rashid told JFO that he was recording the event with his personal camera when "A soldier struck me forcefully, causing me and my camera to fall to the ground, in addition to the badmouthing and insults to which I was subjected."
The guards prevented the journalists from leaving the building, according to JFO. According to one media worker, the situation only ended when reporters ran out as a group, defying the attempt of the guards to detain them in the hospital.
Hisam al-Haj, a correspondent for the al-Hurra channel told JFO that "the military force did not seem to have reasons or motivation behind its treatment of a large number of journalists during their coverage of the visit, or a reason for their detention inside the hospital."
Al-Haj told JFO that journalists and correspondents who work for al-Hurra, al-Iraqiya, al-Furat, al-Salam, and other correspondents were able to flee from the hospital "en masse" as the journalists "all ran out of the building."
JFO, in its statement, demands that the concerned agencies stop their interference in the rights of journalists, calling Wednesday's events a "farce" and demanding that Baghdad security commanders hold soldiers to the stated policy of the Iraqi government to allow journalists to work freely.