ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Two international journalist organizations condemned the broadcast ban imposed on Kurdistan 24, the recent assault on dozens of reporters in Kurdistan, and the killing of a Kurdish journalist.
The International Federation of Journalists (FJ) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Monday criticized the recent violations and attacks against the Kurdish media in Iraq as tensions between Erbil and Baghdad increased following the Sep. 25 independence referendum.
In the aftermath of the Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias' attack on Kirkuk and other disputed territories, Kurdistan 24 was banned by Iraqi authorities and not permitted to cover developments in the areas.
Last week, the Communications and Media Commission (CMC), the Iraqi media regulator, ordered both Kurdistan 24 and Rudaw TV to be shut down, citing a “lack of proper licenses.”
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger stated Iraq needed “an independent and professional regulatory body…to support broadcasters in navigating through the country’s thorny politics.”
“We call on the authorities to immediately lift the ban on these channels and allow them to resume work,” he added.
Both the IFJ and CPJ also highlighted the murder of a Kurdistan TV journalist who was stabbed to death in front of his family in his home in Daquq, near Kirkuk, on Monday.
According to reports, eight masked men forced their way into Kurdistan TV cameraman Arkan Sharifi’s home where they killed him.
CPJ Middle East and North Africa Coordinator Sherif Mansour in Washington, DC, called on Iraqi authorities to “thoroughly investigate and prosecute the murder.”
“[Administrative] parties must stop using journalists as political pawns to settle their scores, and the Iraqi media regulator should immediately allow Rudaw TV and Kurdistan 24 to resume broadcasts,” Mansour affirmed.
On Oct. 21, Kurdistan 24 GM Noreldin Waisy wrote a letter to the IFJ asking them to investigate Baghdad’s banning of the network.
“This is a very dangerous development and is undoubtedly an assault on freedom of press and expression as highlighted under human rights charters,” he stated.
“Our staff practices their work with professionalism and in-line with journalism ethics and honesty in its coverage,” Waisy explained, pointing to the network being used as a source for local and international media.
Editing by Sam A.