Iraqi Kurds urged to free journalists, activists

Sherwan Sherwani. (Photo/Social Media)
Short Url
Updated 10 October 2020

Iraqi Kurds urged to free journalists, activists

  • Kurdistan-based Metro Center for Journalists Rights and Advocacy recorded 88 violations against 62 journalists and media outlets in the first six months of 2020

SULAIMANIYAH/IRAQ: Human rights groups have urged authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan to release a prominent journalist and an activist who had called for demonstrations over unpaid salaries of civil servants.
Sherwan Sherwani, editor in chief of monthly magazine Bashur, was arrested at his home in Irbil on Wednesday without a warrant by “police officers, four of whom were in plainclothes,” said the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
“If the Kurdish regional government seeks to operate under the rule of law, they cannot make journalists disappear on a whim,” the watchdog CPJ said in a statement on Thursday.
Sherwani is known for hard-hitting investigations into corruption and embezzlement in the autonomous region of northern Iraq.
Local human rights groups also raised concern over Badal Barwari, a schoolteacher and political organizer, who was detained in August by Kurdish security forces.
Barwari had called for protests in the town of Dohuk near the border with Turkey to demand payment of civil servant salaries.
He was due to be released on Oct. 4 but remains in custody and his family have not seen him.

HIGHLIGHT

Iraqi Kurdistan, which presents itself as a haven for Iraqi dissidents and foreign investors, is often singled out by rights groups over freedom of expression issues.

Since January, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has paid only six months’ worth of salaries to its 1.2 million civil servants.
In June, it slashed salaries of public sector employees by over 20 percent for those earning more than $250 a month.
Rallies in Dohuk and Erbil, the capital of cash-strapped Ir aqi Kurdistan whose government is led by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), are regularly dispersed.
Dhiya Butros, head of Kurdistan’s Human Rights Commission, told local media last week that since late August, 305 people have been arrested, with 19 still detained.
Kurdistan-based Metro Center for Journalists Rights and Advocacy recorded 88 violations against 62 journalists and media outlets in the first six months of 2020.
Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Kurdish authorities of “unlawfully” closing two offices of a private television channel, “apparently for covering protests and for broadcasts critical” of the KDP.
Iraqi Kurdistan, which presents itself as a haven for Iraqi dissidents and foreign investors, is often singled out by rights groups over freedom of expression issues.


Over 3 million virus cases reported in Mideast

Labourers, wearing protective face masks, disinfect the front of restaurant in Dubai's marina on March 16, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 31 October 2020

Over 3 million virus cases reported in Mideast

  • Labourers, wearing protective face masks, disinfect the front of restaurant in Dubai's marina on March 16, 2020

DUBAI: The number of reported coronavirus cases has gone over 3 million in the Middle East, an Associated Press count showed on Friday, with the true number likely even higher.
Across the Mideast, there have been over 75,000 deaths attributed to the virus by health authorities, the AP count relying on reported figures by individual countries shows.
There have been 2.5 million recoveries from the virus causing the COVID-19 illness.
In the Mideast, the hardest-hit nation remains Iran, which served as the initial epicenter of the virus in the region. In Iran alone, authorities say there have been over 600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, with some 477,000 recoveries and 34,000 deaths. Yet even those numbers are believed to be low, Iranian officials say.

NUMBER

Deaths have been reported in the Middle East region due to the coronavirus, according to health authorities.

In some war-torn nations, it remains difficult to know the scope of the pandemic as well. In Yemen for instance, it’s believed that the vast majority of the country’s cases have gone undiagnosed and untreated, and health workers have said only those who are near death are usually brought to hospitals.