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Iraq’s decade of conflict was meant to herald a move to democracy.But freedom of speech appears a long way off in a country where journalists say they are routinely imprisoned, beaten or simply killed by the forces of the state.
This spring Iraqis, inspired by their neighbours in other Arab countries, began protesting against their government. They gathered in a square in Baghdad which shares its name with Cairo’s iconic counterpart – Tahrir.
But Iraqi journalists trying to cover the protests were all but silenced by government security forces.Since the last American troops left Iraq, the country has had to face the task of managing its own affairs, but the consequences are proving fatal for some.
Joe Stork, a Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Division, says journalists are an “endangered species” in today’s Iraq.
“There seems to be a high level of intolerance for dissent, or for public criticism of either government policies, or of particular leaders,” he said.
Yousif Al-Timimi, a freelance journalist, showed RT some shocking YouTube footage from the protests this February that explicitly shows Iraqi security forces targeting him because he is a journalist. He shouts “Sahafa” which is Arabic for journalist over and over again, but it only makes the police more violent.