Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An open letter from Hawlati editor-in-chief Kamal Rauf to Iraqi President and General Secretary of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Jalal Talabani

Kurdishaspect.com - Translated by Dr Kamal Mirawdeli

H.E. President of Iraq and General Secretary of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Jalal Talabani

It is self-evident that an important pillar of the democratic system is freedom of expression and free press. That is why the extent of the freedom of any society is measured by the degree of the freedom of expression and freedom of journalism it affords. We, realising this democratic deficit, have tried hard to fill in the gap of free and independent press in Kurdistan and have been able to a large extent to fulfil our responsibility. This achievement has been construed by our friends abroad that there has been a considerable progress in [the area of] freedom of expression in Kurdistan. And this has been a point of pride for our people as a whole and a bright spot for our experience before being considered an honour for free and independent journalists themselves. The valuable work which we carry out is accomplished with our own toil and endeavour and we have created no onus for the political parties or government. We have not occupied schools to turn them to our headquarters, neither have we used public purse to finance our projects, or have employed government-funded staff or taken part in starting internal fighting. At the same time, we all witness how the party media has become money suckers creating a financial bleeding where the parties pour endless amounts of money to this bottomless hole of party media. This has no precedent in the whole world.

Dear President,

We are concerned that all the hills and heights of this country have been occupied and turned into party centres and headquarters. Most of the beautiful gardens and orchards of this country have been appropriated by party apparatchiks and officials. We are sad that party business and politics have replaced careers and professions and have taught many of our young people to become parasites and making them bereft of any productive ability and self-confidence. We are sad to see our children in three schools share one old derelict school building three times a day while the party headquarters and party officials’ villas are renovated or built in the most modern style and have usurped the most prestigious locations of our city.

Dear President and Secretary General

We as free and independent journalists for public interest and in order to be able to develop our media like other developed countries, and pull it out under the weight of parties and power and turn it into an observer for the protection of our country, have chosen this path for ourselves to stand on our own feet and work outside the profligate privileges of party and government. We have been content to accept that we are disliked by you in order to make our experience and people likable to our friends and foes. We have been contented to accept poverty and deprivation for ourselves in order to achieve social justice for our society. But, alas, despite all what we have suffered, in the place of appreciation and awards some of the officials kick us, insult us, describe us as regional spies. They assault our correspondents and workers. They confiscate their cameras. This happens at a time when our friends [abroad] encourage us and guide us and give us awards. They tell us: “In spite of all your limited resources, you can convey the message of beauty and democracy of this country to the outside world.”

Dear President

In which part of the world the guards of a social democratic party official kick a journalist with kicks, the journalists are persistently harassed and insulted while the power always talks about democracy and freedom and presents itself as the example of democracy for the region? While we can endure all this economic exclusion and financial constraints and all the plots which are operated against the private media, while we can survive all the personal assaults and defamation launched against us by the party media, but, surely, no one can accept to be kicked and beaten up in the streets in front people in the name of security, Kurdish nationalism and democracy.

Hence, we appeal to you to stop acts of insult and aggression against the independent journalists, to disallow acts of aggression against the beautiful things in this country. It is impossible for us to believe that Kurdistan can be pushed backwards. It is impossible for us to believe that we can have a Kurdistan without independent and free media.

Kamal Rauf