Khamail Khalaf, 2007 winner
The journalists in Radio Free Iraq’s (RFI) Baghdad bureau face extraordinary dangers. In 2006, for the fourth straight year, more journalists died in Iraq than in any other country in the world. Throughout 2006, Khamail Khalaf, a popular broadcaster with a background in television journalism, gave back to the Iraqi people with sensitive, informative reports on the culture and history they nearly lost under the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein.
In early April 2007, Khamail was abducted, tortured and murdered in Baghdad. Her final report, broadcast days before her death, was about the importance of the oil lamp, or “Lala,” in Iraqi homes throughout the generations. The report exemplified the touching, deeply personal style of journalism that so endeared her to RFI’s audience.
Upon learning of her death, representatives of the Office of the President of Iraq wrote to RFI, “With profound sorrow and sadness we have learned of the martyrdom of the journalist Khamail [Khalaf] in a heinous terrorist crime. Conveying our condolences to you and her relatives on this tragic loss, we condemn in the strongest terms these cowardly acts targeting free journalists. Our solidarity goes to you and all honorable journalists committed to serving the new Iraq, promoting the principles of tolerance and acceptance of other views as well as fostering genuine democracy. We pray to God to have mercy on her soul and give her relatives strength and comfort.”
Khamail is survived by three children. She was 50 years old.