London (KurdishMedia.com) 19 September 2010: Both editors, Kamal Rauf and Shiwan Mohammed, of both independent Kurdish newspapers, Hawlati and Awene, appeared in court in Arbil, regional capital, accused of defamation by KDP led by Massuad Barzani.
Kamal Rauf, the chief editor of Hawlati, told KurdishMedia.com in a telephone interview that there is no a case against them. “This is part of the pressure to silence independent media and individuals,” Rauf told KurdishMedia.com on Sunday.
“We asked the court to move the hearing from Arbil to the city of Sulemani where both newspapers are published and where both newspapers are based, the claimant refused and insisted that the case should be heard in Arbil, which is very inconvenient for us to travel form Sulemani to Arbil,” Shiwan Mohammd, the chief editor of independent weekly Awene told KurdishMedia.com.
“The real reason for this is that the KDP has no influence in Sulemani and the KDP wants to influence the outcome of the hearing which may not be possible in Sulemani. Kurdistan effectively is still under two administrations of PUK and KDP,” the chief editor of biweekly Hawlati, Kamal Rauf told KurdishMedia.com.
Both Kamal Rauf and Shiwan Mohammed were talking from the family home of murdered journalist Sardasht Osman in Arbil after they gave evidence in the local KDP court.
Recently both editors and a number of independent individuals in Kurdistan and aboard set up an organisation called “The Committee of Defending Free Expression in Kurdistan” or “Code Free” for short, whose aim is given in its name.
A spokesperson of the committee, who wished to stay anonymous, told KurdishMedia.com, “The KDP have pressured independent journalists and intellectuals by filing lawsuits against all the independent papers just before the release of the ‘findings’ of the Sardasht Osman’s enquiry; this was conducted by KDP,” the spokesperson for Code Free told KurdishMedia.com on Sunday in a telephone interview.
“The aim of the KDP was to make sure that the release of the findings of the enquiry would not have a bumpy ride. It was obvious that no one accept the findings, which makes a young journalist, Sardasht Osman, a sympathiser of a fundamental Islamic group. I would say, this was worse than murdering Osman,” the spokesperson for Code Free elaborated.
“However, this has badly undermined the security of the KDP areas. According to this report the fundamental Islamic groups are active not only in Arbil, but also in the University which is the brain of the city. So where is the security of Kurdistan which KDP claim? I ask,” the spokesperson for the Code Free in Kurdistan told KurdishMedia.com on Sunday.