ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Journalist organizations in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq on Friday criticized the Iraqi authorities’ decision to ban Kurdistan 24 and its staff from covering recent developments in the country.
Since Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias advanced to take control of Kirkuk and other disputed territories from Peshmerga, Kurdistan 24 correspondents have been prevented from covering the events.
In a joint statement, the Iraqi Observatory for Press Freedoms in the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate (IJS) and the Metro Center for the Defense of Press Freedom in Kurdistan expressed their concerns about the safety of journalists in the country.
“The media in the country will become a victim of the escalating political crisis between Baghdad and Erbil,” the statement read.
The two organizations also called on Iraqi authorities to “spare satellite channels, radio stations, news agencies, and journalists to be a party to the current crisis.”
As tensions increased between Erbil and Baghdad following the advance of Iraqi forces, Ali al-Khuwaildi, head of the executive body of the Media Communications Commission, requested the Joint Operations Command ban Kurdistan 24 in Baghdad and the rest of Iraq.
In response to the ban, Kurdistan 24 GM Noreldin Waisy wrote a letter to the International Federation of Journalists (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,” the Kurdistan 24 GM explained, pointing to the network being used as a source for local and international media.