Sulaymaniyah, Halabja Become Kurdistan's Freedom of Speech Capitals

Kurdistan 01:45 PM - 2023-07-06
 Press Freedom PUKMEDIA

Press Freedom

Kurdistan Journalists

The Kurdistan Journalists Organization disclosed information regarding assaults on journalists over the previous six months. Statistics indicate that Sulaymaniyah was the region where journalists felt the most secure and where the fewest violations were reported. 

Hozan Qadir, president of the Kurdistan Journalists Organization, stated at a press conference, "Sulaymaniyah has been the safest city for journalists and has the lowest number of cases, followed by Halabja, according to statistics provided by the organization about violations against journalists that have been committed in the provinces of the Kurdistan Region." 

Qadir continued, "Duhok reported the most instances of journalist violations, followed by Erbil with 16 and Halabja with 5." Sulaymaniyah was the safest city for journalists, with only four cases reported.

Journalists Organization: Our statistics are accurate
The Journalists Organization has confirmed the violation statistics for Erbil and Duhok, stating, "We have delivered the report to all diplomats in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, and international organizations concur with the violations." 

Qadir said, "We rely on our own research, and the violations we have listed in our report are legitimate."

"We have delivered the report to all diplomats in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, in addition to the fact that international organizations concur on the infractions, especially in Erbil and Duhok," he added. 
Erbil and Duhok witnessed an increase in violations
Karwan Anwar, Secretary of the Sulaymaniyah branch of the Kurdistan Syndicate of Journalists, told PUKMEDIA, "According to the most recent reports from foreign organizations, violations against journalists are increasing in Erbil and Duhok, while there are fewer violations in Sulaymaniyah and Halabja, where the press is more free." 

"There are two distinct environments, one with greater and one with less freedom of expression. According to reports, press freedom is declining, and the decline is observable in regions with less press freedom," he continued.
 Violence against journalists signifies a lack of freedom
Journalism requires freedom so that journalists can work freely without fear or intimidation.

Director of Media Organization Najat Rosti stated to PUKMEDIA, "Wherever the limits of freedom are diminished, journalistic violence increases. At the same time, the authorities of the various regions of Kurdistan determine the extent to which they are committed to providing a free environment for journalism."

"As a result of the arrest of journalists in Badinan, there have been fewer protests and demonstrations in Erbil and Duhok," he added. "Journalists and activists feared they would suffer the same fate as the detainees, as their detention was intended to terrify activists in Erbil and Duhok."
Journalists' lives are in danger in Erbil and Duhok
Vager Niheli, a journalist from Duhok, told PUKMEDIA, "When it comes to freedom of expression in the Kurdistan Region, and the fact that Duhok ranks first in the lack of press freedom, followed by Erbil, we can say that this is due to the authorities' inability to manage the region." 

"In Erbil and Duhok, freedom of expression is restricted. I was among those who fled Duhok in pursuit of journalism and free expression. "I'm now living in Sulaymaniyah because my life was in danger after being arrested, beaten, and harassed several times," he explained.
Threats have compelled young people to flee the country
Journalists and activists in Erbil and Duhok have fled to other countries due to a lack of freedom of expression and intimidation by certain parties. 

Hemn Mamand, a journalist and civil activist, told PUKMEDIA, "Freedom is practically nonexistent in Erbil and Duhok, and there are reports that freedom of expression throughout the Kurdistan Region is in danger, especially under the rule of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)." Individuals who like or comment on online content are imprisoned and threatened on a daily basis in Erbil, Duhok, and Badinan. Dozens of KDP-ruled Kurdistan's youth and activists have left the country as a result of threats."

"Over the last three years, the Badinan issue has come to represent a negative aspect of the ninth cabinet. " More than 83 people have been accused and sentenced in Badinan, with the majority of them imprisoned. " Two journalists, Guhdar Zebari, and Sherwan Sherwani, are still detained," Mamand added. 

"Most private media outlets are in the green zone, and data show that there are fewer journalists in jail there than in the yellow zone," he said. 

Journalists and data from the Journalists Organization concur that Sulaymaniyah and Halabja provinces have higher levels of individual, journalistic, and expressive freedom than Erbil and Duhok provinces. Previously, this information was included in annual international reports as well.

Sulaymaniyah is a calm province since there are no threats made against journalists and no limits on their freedom of the press. As a result, journalists and activists who feel intimidated in Erbil and Duhok for doing their jobs move there in the hopes of having more freedom to do so. This is the reason why a large number of journalists and activists recently left Erbil and Duhok for Sulaymaniyah, where they are safe from harm.


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