Monday, September 20, 2010

Press release: Support Freedom of Expression in Iraqi Kurdistan

Wusha Company for Media


The authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan have intensified their pressure on freedom of speech in general and free media in particular during the last few weeks. If this position is maintained or intensified it could jeopardise the future of democracy in Iraqi Kurdistan. The main purpose behind the authority’s campaign is to silence all journalists and writers who attempt to criticise the ruling political parties for the way they run the affairs of Iraqi Kurdistan Region and their blatant interference in the judicial system. They are being put under increasing pressure to stop advocating human rights and to ignore the corruption that is crippling the region of Iraqi Kurdistan. The authorities are using a number of methods to prevent corruption and the abuse of human and democratic rights being aired or dealt with. They are creating obstacles to prevent the media acquiring appropriate information, accusing journalists of betraying their country, personal threats, harassment and violence. Families of journalists who raise these issues are also subjected to harassment.

The authority’s most recent action to suppress freedom of speech is to sue several independent journalists and media outlets, demanding huge fines for publishing articles related to corruption and human rights abuses. The Secretary of the Kurdistan Democratic Party has filed a number of cases against independent media outlets. For example: they have demanded more than $1,000,000,000 in two separate lawsuits against the Rozhnama newspaper, around $400,000 from the Hawlati newspaper, around $500,000 from the Awena newspaper, around $500,000 in two lawsuits from Levin magazine, and also other demands from other media outlets. It is almost impossible for these media outlets and journalists to afford such amount of money.

The political parties which are in power in Iraqi Kurdistan have filed lawsuits, using an old Iraqi Penal law that was decreed in 1969, to suppress free of speech. They have not used the Journalism Law No. 35 issued by Iraqi Kurdistans Parliament in 2007. We hold the President, the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Parliament of the Kurdistan Region responsible for this campaign.

Freedom of expression is one of the most important and a basic human right. Many sacrifices have been made to achieve it. Therefore, it is the responsibility of anyone who believes in these basic rights to support freedom of speech when it is in jeopardy. We call upon you to:

1. Support freedom of expression in Iraqi Kurdistan.

2. Exert pressure on the authorities of Iraqi Kurdistan to stop interfering in the judicial process in order to suppress the independent media.

3. Urge these authorities to end their campaign suppressing free speech.

4. Ask the President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, the Executive Authority and the courts to adhere to Law No. 35 decreed by the Kurdistan Parliament in 2007 with regard to cases related to free media and to refrain from suppressing independent and free media out of personal and political interests.

Wusha Company for Media


Wusha Company for Media20/09/2010 00:00:00