photo: Eddy van Wessel


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Don’t kill the watchdog

Again one of my former students has been killed. Here, in this country that is changing rapidly and seems to be moving forward so fast. Or is it really only the outside that changes?

Kawa Garmyani was in some of the courses that the Independent Media Centre (IMCK) organized under my direction, like Soran Mama Hama was before. His death is as shocking as Soran’s was in 2008. Two young, promising careers ended. Two young lives terminated.
Both were gunned down outside their houses, both were threatened, both wrote about corruption. Their killers have not been found, nor have they been persecuted.

The murder of journalists cannot be accepted. I say it, international organizations say it, and foreign ministers must have said it in more diplomatic terms too. Yet is still happens.

I am left again with the shock that hit me when hired thugs attacked my friend and honored journalist Asos Hardi. So in this country not any journalist is safe? Because we write, because we criticize, because we want change and a better world, because we want the people to know, we are a target?

How can politicians who have been able to make the region prosper and grow, not be able to put their house in order when it comes to press freedom?

And how is it possible that in the many cases of violence against journalists in Iraqi Kurdistan during my years here, none of the perpetrators has been punished? Why is no progress made in this sense?

Because the politicians do not set the example. If journalists work against their ethics, if they are guilty of slander, if they are lying and deceiving, the court is the place to affront them. On the base of the law that has been made for that: the Press Law of 2008. If politicians and authorities threaten journalists, in whatever way, also by using outdated laws just to be able to lock them up, they are giving off the wrong signal.

If perpetrators are not punished, others think they will get away with it too. That is true for the harassing and killing of journalists. But it is also true for the corruption that journalists uncover.

Iraq is high in the top ten of the most corrupt countries in the world. We say Kurdistan is not really Iraq, but what to think if journalists are murdered for trying to beat corruption?

In my part of the world most major corruption cases were uncovered by journalists. Major parliamentary research commissions have been set up after the press had done the digging and started the outcry. That is how it should be. Journalists are the watchdogs of any society.

But a country that kills its watchdogs, is open to any attack. And corruption is a killer. A slow one. But definitely a killer.

This blog is also published in Kurdish in the daily Kurdistani Nwe


Unknown said...

I wish and hope young generation in the early part of their career get a chance to read your article. How valuable!!! Great piece of writing. Keep it up

Unknown said...

I wish and hope young generation in the early part of their journalistic career get a chance to read your article. How valuable!!! Great piece of writing. Keep it up and we better let the other side know that giving up is no longer an option. Living in the USA has conditioned me to accept the fact that change is a product of persistent effort and tenacious responsibility. However, I don't believe that anyone should loose their precious life in order to pursue it.