ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Journalists in Iraq continue to face threats against their lives as nearly 178 are prevented from returning to Kirkuk Province or are in hiding due to security risks, an organization said on Tuesday.
According to a report released by the New Media Organization, a group which works on the rights and freedoms of journalists in Iraq, dozens of reporters have been denied the freedom to practice their work in Kirkuk and have had their offices shut down.
“They [the journalists] are threatened, and their lives are at risk,” the organization said in the report.
New Media added that several news stations in Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu were attacked, burned, or looted following a military takeover of the area by the Iraqi army and Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias on Oct. 16.
Violations of press freedom “are against the law, constitution, and principles of human rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” the report stated. “We will deliver the report to the international centers, consulates, and international journalists organizations.”
In the aftermath of the Oct. 16 takeover, a Kurdistan TV cameraman, Arkan Sharif, was murdered in his Kirkuk home in front of his family.
More recently, a Kurdish photojournalist working for Reuters in Kirkuk was the target of a grenade attack on his home.
The Iraqi government has also imposed a ban on Kurdish news networks in the Kurdistan Region—including Kurdistan 24—from covering events in Kirkuk and other parts of the country.
In response to the ban, Kurdistan 24’s General Manager Noreldin Waisy wrote a letter to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urging them to investigate Baghdad’s ban on the network.
“Our staff practices their work with professionalism and in-line with journalism ethics and honesty in its coverage,” he explained, emphasizing the network is used as a source for local and international media.
On Sunday, the Kurdish Deputy Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Aram Sheikh Mohammed, said efforts were being made to restore permissions to Kurdistan 24 and other Kurdish networks in the Region.