Editor in-chief of Livin: Free Press in Kurdistan is under threat by the KRG

  • KurdishMedia.com - By Kamal Chomani
  • 25/10/2008 00:00:00

Kurdistan (KurdishMedia.com) 25 October 2008: In the recent months, oppression against the independent journalists has been stepped up. The late Soran Mama Hama was murdered in Kirkuk in July 2008, and many others have received threats.

Just recently, the KRG parliament passed a law to regulate the journalistic work. However, the free press in Iraqi Kurdistan still remains under threat by the authorities.

Mira, editor in-chief of bi-monthly Livin (which means Movement) has been a long-time advocate of the free press in Iraqi Kurdistan. In the last few days, a plot to assassinate Mira was unfold by the PUK Asayish, security services in Sulemani.

In an exclusive interview with KurdishMedia.com, Mira addressed the challenges facing the independent media in Kurdistan. He stated that journalists are under an increasing pressure to be less critical of the semi-totalitarian rule two ruling Kurdish groups.

Mira said that “we are under a major pressure from the KRG, chiefly because we journalists reject the redlines in which they attempt contain our work, and the political groups are terrified of the free voices".

“Only the independent press receives threats, of which there are only a few in the region. The newspapers and other outlet associated with the main political parties never receive threats, as they continuously play music to the ears of their groups to placate them,” said Mira.

Editor in-chief of Livin, who is now under the threat of assassination by an unnamed Kurdish intelligence apparatus stated that “the authorities have issues only with the independent press because we are critical of the authorities’ behavior, and we demand changes in the political system. Independent journalists are under the threat of assassination, kidnapping and detention. These threats are increasing daily."

Mira expected the recent meeting the president of Iraqi Kurdistan held with journalist to produce better relationships with the authority, but unfortunately, it did not produce any positive results.”

He further explained that "I myself participated in the meeting with Barzani. The aim of the meeting was not to compromise on the free press. The KRG claims that it has established a democracy system, but in reality, we see the opposite. The free press status is in danger.”

With regard to authorities protecting journalists, Mira stated that "I don’t believe anything solves through law in this country. Even recently approved media act, but it isn’t implemented. The political environment isn’t democratic. Therefore, laws become ineffective in providing a safe environment for journalist in this country."

The case of the assassinating Soran Mama Hama seems to be closed by the police of Kirkuk for lack of evidence. But Mira has a different view: "Soran's assassination case is not important for the police. The police in Kirkuk are powerless, and they are doing nothing to find the perpetrator. They haven’t yet arrested anyone for Sorani’s assassination. However, we are investigating by other means, and I'm confident that we will reach results soon."

Despite the pressure on the independent press, it remains well-received by locals.

Wali Qadir, 32, a teacher in a elementary school in Iraqi Kurdistan told KurdishMedia.com, "We as common people in Kurdistan love and admire independent media and its journalists. They are the defenders of our rights."

According to Wali, "Independent journalists gain their freedom and independence via their bravery. They risk their lives when publishing reports about corruption and social injustices. In Kurdistan free press is under pressure, but journalists publish the reports with their efforts, not because of KRG attempts to pave the way for freedom."

Kamal Chomani based is a freelance journalist based in Arabil: chomani_85@yahoo.com

  • KurdishMedia.com - By Kamal Chomani
  • 25/10/2008 00:00:00