MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : PUK & KDP AGAINST JOURNALISTS – Metro center calls on Iraqi Kurdistan to re-investigate violations against journalists

SOUTH KURDISTAN (IRAQ) – 24 April 2019 – ekurd net – SULAIMANI, Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— The Metro Center for Journalists’ Rights and Advocacy, urged Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to repeat investigations “in depth” on previously reported violations against journalists on the anniversary of Kurdish Journalism Day.“Metro Center believes that some in politics are not ready for the Kurdistan Region to become a torch of democracy in the region — not allowing journalists to do their work without thinking about potential retaliation,” read a statement from the Sulaimani-based watchdog on Monday.

“Therefore, Metro Center urges the [Kurdistan] Regional Government to re-open investigations in depth regarding the unaddressed attacks carried out against journalists,” it added.Kurdish Journalism Day is celebrated on April 22, when the first Kurdish newspaper written in the language entitled ‘Kurdistan’ was published in 1898 in Cairo, Egypt, by Mikdad Midhad Badirkhan.

Due to constant bans on the newspaper, it was published in different places at the time.

Diyari Mohammed, the manager of Metro Center, told Rudaw English they “have seen the anniversary as an opportunity” to make such a call.“We also did not want the anniversary to be used only for awarding journalists, but also to ask the government to be serious” in dealing with the cases of killed journalists.The freedom of journalism in Iraqi Kurdistan has been questioned in the past by local and international media watchdogs, following the deaths of some journalist such as Zardasht Osman, Kawa Garmyani and others.“It [the government] shall guarantee the protection of the lives of journalists while preparing their reports on corruption and exploitation of power,” urged Metro Center.

Zardasht Osman, was a vocal activist for Kurdish democracy and was never afraid of criticising Massoud Barzani in his articles. He criticised Massoud Barzani and his family for running a monopoly on business and politics in Kurdistan. He sarcastically suggested that he wished that he was married to Massoud Barzani’s daughter so that he can be corrupt and benefit from the position.

He was killed in 2010 after writing the poem “I am in love with Massoud Barzani’s daughter”Iraq is ranked 156 out of 180 countries in the 2019 press freedom report by Reporters Without Borders.

“Murders of journalists go unpunished and, if investigations are opened, they produce no result, according to the families of the victims,” the report stated. It did not give figures specific for the Kurdistan Region.Kurdistan Journalists Syndicate said in its 2018 report that journalists in the Kurdistan Region had reported 132 violations. It added that the “prevention of media coverage was the most frequent violation reported, which was 70 cases.”

On the occasion, leaders in the Kurdistan Regional Government like deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani from the PUK party commended the work of journalists, saying “together we can improve the condition of journalism in Kurdistan.”

Attaching a photograph of his late father Iraqi President and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan founder Jalal Talabani with a camera, Qubad — a native of Sulaimani — added that “Journalists [shall be] professional and we [shall] protect their rights.” He added the Kurdish saying that “one cannot clap with a single hand.”

He added there should be government “facilitation” in return for a “commitment to ethics of journalism” from journalists.

The US and UK consulates in Erbil also commented on the anniversary.

“Journalism represents the heart of democracy, and an independent, free, and diverse media is essential to good governance,” read a congratulatory tweet from the US Consulate.

The British consulate underscored that independent journalism is essential.

“On Kurdish Journalism Day, we should remember that independent journalism is the lifeblood of democracy,” it stated.

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