Over the past few days, the Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq has followed up on the administrative crisis, incursions and violations suffered by a number of employees of al-Marbad Foundation, and has made a series of contacts with a number of employees of the foundation, to uncover the details of the incident .
A number of employees of al-Marbad Media Were arbitrarily dismissed as a result of an illegal takeover of their administration for purposes bearing the fingerprints of some of the political actors in force in Basra.
A number of employees told the Association that they had been expelled and prevented from entering the building or pressured to refrain from working with the new administration. The European finance intermediaries imposed a new administration that is close to a political side in Basra, motivated by the end of the independent approach that al-Marbad has worked on over the past years, away from political dictation and political party funding.
“The story began with the imposition of a compulsory leave for the administrative board by the head of the Iraq projects which is affiliated to the Media Development Fund of BBC. An action that was deemed illegal, led the head of the foundation to object the measure and describe it as illegal and unacceptable,” one of the staff members told the association. “The director of the foundation was accompanying his mother, who caught COVID-19, when the new administration took advantage of the imposition of its authority on staff and editorial policy.
The incident led to the dismissal of more than a dozen employees, and the appointment of others. An action totally out if the Media Development Fund’s authority ; since it holds no power to impose administrations on internationally funded media institutions.””After the end of his quarantine, the Director went to Al-Marbad with a number of dismissed staff members, after he filed a complaint at al-Baradiya police station, which called on the new director to contact officials to send a regiment of Basra operations command to Al-Marbad to pressure the director of the legitimate institution to leave,” he said.
“The basra police command moved to summon the legitimate director and the other to the center to resolve the issue, which ended with the two parties accepting to invoke the law and returning things to their previous state until they were eliminated, and ending the presence of the two forces stationed near the institution of the Basra Police Command and operations command,” he said.”The legitimate director of the foundation returned to al-Marbad building as soon as he left the police station, to take his personal contents and supplies, but he was surprised upon his arrival that at least 10 security elements of the army headed by a First Lieutenant, who beaten and insulted the director.
“The legal procedures are still in force, and the complaint is against the administration, which took over al-Marbad with the help of the Basra Operations Command of the province,” he said.
The Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq said the security incursion of Basra operations without any complaint or judicial warrant was a surprising violation in a dispute described by some colleagues in al-Marbad as administrative and internal.
The association expresses concern that influential political actors in Basra are standing to capture al-Marbad, and preventing a replica of its experience, which proved to be the most successful in the field of independent journalism that Iraq lacks.
The association is also surprised by the intervention of iraq’s project officer in the Media Development Fund in relation to local institutions, and the imposition of administrative measures on an administration that is not under their power. The association calls on international media organizations to highlight the fund’ s and its staff to prevent a recurrence of what happened with al-Marbad and to sabotage the last remaining independent media body in the country.