Journalists’ Black Wednesday in Kurdistan

13/8/2020

Kurdistan Region witnessed a black Wednesday for journalists and media after the arrest and detention of many of them, the confiscation of equipment and the raid on the office of a satellite channel, and the cutting of the Internet, as well as the death of a colleague in an accident while participating in the demonstrations. The violations came as security authorities stepped up restrictions against the protests that were mobilized through social media.

Below is a detailed report of violations against the press family in all cities of Kurdistan region:

Erbil:

Due to the demonstrations that took place in several regions of the Kurdistan region, which came out to demand reforms, the release of delayed salaries of employees since six months now, and the deterioration of services, the province witnessed a difficult day for media and journalists.

The attacks targeted seven media crews, and NRT staff had the lion’s share of them. Channel reporter Mohammed Amer Bashir told Press Freedom Advocacy Association that he and his cameraman Koran Abdul Khaleq were streaming live broadcasts covering the influx of people to the city’s demonstration square, at 4 p.m., and surprised by two cars belonging to the security forces in the region storming the place near Erbil Silo, confiscating all the press equipment, then taking them to a police station nearby and detaining them for a few hours.

Khaled Mohammed, an NRT correspondent in Kuisengq district, was arrested by security forces while covering the moment of the citizens’ gathering, and Mohammed told the association that at 4:20 p.m. after the completion of a live broadcast of the demonstrations, a four-person security force arrested him at the city security directorate for four hours. In Kuisengq itself, HazarRashid, a reporter for the Kurdistan Islamic Union satellite channel Speda and his cameraman Ahmed Seif eddin, werearrested for four hours at the District’s Residency. NRT cameraman Mohammed Khalil Shawani was arrested in front of Park Shanider, where the demonstrators were supposed to be gathering at 5 p.m. and was released at 12:00 p.m.

Channel reporter Hirsch Kader confirmed that during their coverage of the demonstrations, security forces were tracking him and his cameraman Soran Ahmed, forcing them to hide andstay away from the demonstrations in the center of Erbil, lest they’ll be arrested.

The crew of Payam TV Channel, which belongs to the Islamic Group in Kurdistan, was also violated after being attacked by a security force, as the channel’s correspondent Imran Amir told the Press Freedom Advocacy Association  that he and his cameraman Abdulmutalib Khoshoi and his other cameraman Younis Abdullah were violated after the force’s cut off their live broadcast, and they confiscated all their press equipment.

In Erbil, the city, security forces also confiscated the equipment of NRT reporter and cameraman Omed Joumani and photographer Najm Siddiq and prevented them from filming.

Duhok

In Dohuk, all the offices of the NRT satellite channel in the province were raided and all its cadres arrested, according to a report published by the channel on its websites.

NRT correspondent in Duhok, Taif Koran, in a statement to thePress Freedom Advocacy Association confirmed that the security forces raided the office of the channel in Dohuk at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday and did not leave it until 6:30 p.m., after detaining five employees of the office, two reporters, a photographer, a Montage Editor and a service driver.

He confirmed that the channel’s crews in the districts of Zakho, Aqra and Shiladze were prevented from covering any demonstration in the mentioned cities, with emphasis on the media in Dohuk in general.

Sulaimaniya:

The death of journalist Huner Rasool, who died of falling to the ground while escaping from tear gas and swallowing his tongue after the fall, was the result of protests in Sulaimaniyahprovince.

Rasool is a correspondent for the Gali kurdistan channel in Rania district of Sulaimaniyah province, and is a columnist for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) newspaper, KordistaniNawa.

The colleague remained in hospital for about an hour and died due to a lack of medical staff who were on strike, gali kurdistanreported.

The internet in the region was cut off for several hours, the morning of the demonstration, confirmed by the non-governmental organization NetBlocks, which monitors the security of internet networks and internet freedom in countries around the world, and the organization confirmed that the internet cut lasted three hours.

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