World Press Freedom Day 'not day ofcelebration' for Kurdish journalists
Erbil, May 3 (AKnews) – Violence against journalists in Kurdastani Iraq is on the rise, said the Kurdistan Journalists Syndicate (KJS) today, World Press Freedom Day.
The KJS marked the day with a one minute silence to protest the "ongoing" attacks against journalists in the region.
The rise in violence against journalists is linked to nearly two months of protests in Kurdistan Region where thousands of demonstrators took to the streets calling for reforms.
Secretary of the KJS board, Hamid Mohammed, said: "We are marking this day not only to stand behind the organizations of the world fighting for press freedom, but also because the violence against journalists in Kurdistan Region is ongoing.
"This is not a day of celebration for us because violence, arrests and the beating of journalists by the security forces continue. But we still call on journalists to abide by the ethics of their profession and we ask the relevant authorities to treat journalists in accordance with the law of Kurdistan"
Azad Hamadamin, head of KJS Erbil office said that in one recent incident, on 1 May, security forces had beaten up journalists and confiscated their equipment. The reporters were trying to cover a demonstration in front of the Iranian consulate against the execution of a Kurdish activist by the Islamic republic.
Under the recently passed demonstration law, all protests and rallies must obtain prior permission from the authorities. This law has been used to attack journalists covering the events who are classed as demonstrators by security forces.
Mr Hamadamin said: "Whether a demonstration is licensed or not is not the fault of journalists. The reporter covers whatever event takes place."
Earlier today, Iraq's Journalism Freedom Observatory said violence against journalists had shot up by 55% in Iraq.
"This indicates the almost complete absence of press freedom in all cities across the country, including Kurdistan," Ziad al-Ujaili, the Executive Director of the organization told AKnews.
Rahman Gharib, the representative of the observatory in the Kurdistan Region said: "372 attacks have targeted journalists and media professionals since 3 May last year, and most of them took place in Kurdistan. The number has increased with the growing popular demonstrations in the region and the accompanying media coverage.
"The security authorities also closed nine media institutions, and one of them is still closed now. In addition to that 11 institutions were raided."
According to the Iraqi Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, 247 journalists and media workers have lost their lives in their line of duty since the 2003 US-led allied invasion of Iraq.
By Raber Y. Aziz, contributions from Fryad Mohammed and Bashar al-Mandalawi. Edited by Patrick Smith.