ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Sunday marked the importance of the media’s role on the 120th anniversary of the publication of the first Kurdish newspaper.
In a statement posted on the KRG’s website, the Council of Ministers celebrated Kurdistan Journalism Day by thanking all journalists and Kurdish media syndicates for their “significant role in protecting social cohesion” and bridging the gap between the people and the government of Kurdistan.
“It is a great honor to work with the Kurdistan Region’s dozens of press and media institutions who hold different opinions and political messages in an atmosphere of freedom. The journalists of Kurdistan by behaving in a professional, credible, and civil manner, away from any act that could harm the reputation and status of the Kurdish media, play an active role in safeguarding the freedoms to which they are entitled,” the statement read.
The council stressed the work each Kurdish entity faces in maintaining the peace as Iraq heads to the polls on May 12. Hundreds of candidates in the Kurdistan Region are vying for 18 seats reserved for representatives from Erbil, Sulaimani, and Duhok.
“We call on all media institutions in Kurdistan to play a positive role in the effective preservation of safety and social peace in this beautiful democratic experience worthy of the name of Kurdistan, its reputation, and history of struggle and sacrifice.”
“On this day, we salute the pure souls of Kurdistan’s journalists, those who have sacrificed their lives on the front lines against terrorists, to convey the truth,” the statement added.
Kurdish Journalism Day falls on the same day as the publication of the first Kurdish newspaper, titled ‘Kurdistan,’ in 1898 in Cairo. It was written and printed by Mikdad Midhad Badirkhan, a renowned professor. It also marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Kurdistan Journalists Syndicate.
The KRG has faced criticism from Amnesty International and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in reports released last month that warned of threats to freedom of speech in the Kurdistan Region. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) also expressed concern about reports of security forces using excessive force against demonstrators who took to the streets in late March.
The Metro Center for Journalists Rights and Advocacy, a media rights watchdog, listed 78 incidents it claims violated the rights of journalists while covering demonstrations across the region as a result of unpaid and reduced salaries for government employees.