'Concerns’ about deteriorating freedoms in Kurdistan Region: JSC
The logo of The Switzerland-based Journalist Support Committee (JSC)
Zhyan News Network
SULAIMANI – The Switzerland-based Journalist Support Committee (JSC) on Wednesday (July 14) denounced the raid of a media outlets and threats against others in Sulaimani by the security forces on Tuesday amid the deteriorating relations between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) co-presidents.
On Tuesday evening, a security force raided iPLUS Media Corporation building, detained and hurt the CEO and the employees of the TV channel for about an hour while they were working under experimental broadcasting. The armed force took out some of the channel's equipment, broke other channel’s equipment and doors, the media agency reported
Three other media outlets like Zhyan News Network, Ajansi Wilat and Chaw also closed down their gates after under pressure and fear from the security forces.
“The Journalist Support Committee (JSC) in Geneva expresses its deep concern about the blatant deterioration in respect for public freedoms in the Kurdistan Region, especially the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to freedom of the press,” the JSC, an international watchdog based in Geneva, said in
The situation in Sulaimani is of main concerns after PUK Co-President Bafel Jangi changed the heads of counterterrorism and intelligence affiliated with Co-President Lahur Sheikh Jangi, who were replaced by loyalists to Talabani in recent days.
“No explanatory statement was issued by the Region’s authorities or the Iraqi Journalist Syndicate for the raid,” the committee’s coordinator in Iraq, Salah al-Zubaidi, said.
The watchdog called on the authorities in Sulaimani “to immediately retract their decisions to close the offices of the aforementioned media outlets and to release detained journalists and compensate them for the losses they incurred.”
The JSC also stressed “the need for rapid and transparent investigations to reveal and announce the reasons for taking the decision, with the growth of press indicators into political disputes against the background of the decisions of the raid, arrest and closure.”
The raid comes as a delicate time for the Kurdistan Region as it has come under scrutiny by local and international organizations and foreign missions for deteriorating state of the freedoms, such as the press freedom, the freedom of expression and media.
The watchdog also called on the Kurdish authorities “to stop prosecuting and intimidating journalists, to respect the freedom of opinion, expression and publication enshrined in international conventions as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to ensure protection for journalists in order to preserve the right of all citizens to access information from its sources, away from the pressures of political or security authorities.”