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UK FM discusses 'importance of free media' with Nechirvan Barzani

  2021-06-09  | 
 Zhyan News Network
Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani (R) meets with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab(L0 in Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq, June 9,2021 Photo by Kurdistan Region Presidency
 Zhyan News Network

SULAIMANI – Following the deteriorating state of the freedoms coming under the spotlight after a controversial case of five convicted journalists and activists in Erbil, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Wednesday (June 9) that his country backs up the freedom of press and expression in the Kurdistan Region that ensure freedoms for its people. 

“We attach importance to the freedoms that secure and guarantee people in the KRI. Particular things like media freedom and freedom of expression. Welcome the government to focus on these things,” Raab said at a news conference with Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani.

The Kurdistan Region has come under fire by the foreign missions including the UK consulate general in Erbil and several international watchdogs for a court process and six-year-imprisonment for five journalists and activists arrested last year in Duhok governorate. 

In summer and autumn, the security forces affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) clamped down on anti-government protests rocked Duhok, and detained scores of teachers, activists, journalists and protesters with many still behind the bar. 

The protests were in response to the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) inability to pay public sector salaries on time and full, its austerity measures in place so far and the deteriorating economic conditions in the Kurdistan Region.

The KDP is the biggest ruling political parties in the Region. Barzani is a senior member within the party.  

“We are concerned at a series of allegations of shortcomings in the circumstances of their detention and in the trial process,” the UK consulate said in early May following after the Region’s appellate court upheld a court ruling for the imprisonment of the five to six years in jail. 

One of the charges of the court case was that that “they contacted the US and German General Consulates, met their diplomats in a hotel and were paid by them, showed the diplomats in Dure in Barzan area" where ruling Barzani family belongs to. 

“We are also surprised by the references to meetings with foreign consulates in court documents; meeting with foreign diplomats should not be a crime,” the consulate continued. “The UK calls for full and scrupulous adherence to due process and the rule of law in the KRI, as everywhere else in the world.”

The UK foreign minister also said that his country had allocated new funding to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs for preservation of the cultural sites. 

UK is one of the 83 members of the global Coalition Against Daesh/ ISIS led by the United States that was founded in 2014 to fight the militant group in Iraq and Syria. 

Raab arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday and met with the Iraqi senior officials. He is supposed to meet a number of senior Kurdish officials.

(Zhyan English)