Double dip sorrow for family of journalist Sardasht Osman

By Mufid Abdulla:

This article first appeared on September 25, 2010 on

It seems like only yesterday, yet when it was reported almost five months ago about the young, freelance journalist Sardasht Osman who was abducted from Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan, on 4th May and whose body was found two days later in the city of Mosul with two bullets shot into his mouth, his death shocked and rocked the whole world. As a result, the amount of internal and external pressures mounted on the Kurdistan Regional Government and they reacted with an initiation and declaration of an inquiry desk into his murder. Five months later, the results of the investigation have not only surprised everybody but have also shown us that the authority has not changed its methods at all under these circumstances. The conclusion of the investigation states that Sardasht Osman was connected with terror group Ansar al-Islam and that he refused to participate in further cooperation with them and therefore in revenge it led to him being murdered by them. Furthermore, they have named the person that carried out that crime and apparently according to that report he lives in Mosul and belongs to Ansar al-Sunna. But the fact remains that Sardasht was picked up outside his university by a vehicle in front of the security forces in Erbil. Therefore, it clearly wasn’t one person who carried out this crime!

The immediate reaction from his family, especially his mother and brothers, was one of fury and fuming, to the extent that it has made their tragedy a double dip of sorrow due to the fact that their son / brother has been accused for affiliating with a group with Al Qaeda, Ansar al-Islam. They had never recalled their brother ever going to the mosque or being a particularly religious person. The political wing and armed council of Ansar al-Islam have issued several statements up to date and in all of them they have refuted the claims of that investigation. They stated in their statement last week that they are not reluctant in declaring their activities and they did not kill Sardasht Osman, they go further stating that “this is the old method of the KDP pursuing his old method. “

The KDP is indeed playing its difficult hand badly; and the result of the investigation is that they did not offer any candles in the dark to the Sardasht family. The Committee to Protect Journalists has stated that; “The CPJ is dismayed by the deficient inquiry and calls on Kurdish authorities to conduct a thorough and credible investigation into Osman’s death.” Writers and journalists both inside and outside Kurdistan have had different feelings of disbelief and anger towards the news that their fellow journalist has been accused of being a member of an Al-Qaeda affiliated group. Sardasht’s brother has never recalled his brother going to a mosque or befriending any Islamic group and states that he had always advocated liberalism. The Kurdish intellectual among them Dr Mirrawdali, who was a candidate for the position of President of Kurdistan, stated that “this is a humiliation to all intellectuals in Kurdistan”, he continued to say that, “the KDP is not frightened of the truth, from the wind of his family and friends, from the globalisation and the law and constitution. Basically, the KDP has washed its hands of the law and constitution just to pursue its own agenda”. Rahmn Garib, director of the Committee for the Defence of Journalism in Kurdistan has found the report by the KRG to be distasteful and that it may find a group such as Amnesty International asking for an independent committee, accompanied with all representatives of the Sardasht Osman family and all civil activist organisations. The editor-in-chief of Hawlati newspaper, Kamal Rauf, has elaborated his disbelief in the result of the case. Kurdish internet news agencies comprising Kurdistanet and Kurdistanpost have all expressed their deep doubts and suspension about the case results. To me, Sardasht has been murdered today not four months ago. To me Sardasht Osman’s spirit is very much alive.

Also, “Reporters Without Borders” have condemned the act of the KRG for restricting the work and freedom of journalism work, such an innocent person has been murdered and for that reason he will become a ghost in our lives; to me all the time whispering in our ears and eventually he will identify the name of all the murderers who killed him. We can ignore the suffering of fish, since they cannot voice it. Sardasht is in pain, we all in pain. To me this is something reminiscent of the story of Patrick Swayze in the film Ghost when he, as an innocent man, was murdered in cold blood coming out of the theatre and we later discover it was a planned attack. His spirit mysteriously remains in the earthly world and becomes a burden on the minds of all his killers, to such an extent that they are unable to go about their normal lives due to the impending guilt upon them. Eventually these killers get exactly what they deserve, which we could liken to the concept of karma; in which it is believed that what goes around comes around, and we all face positive and negative consequences of our acts whether good or bad. We can only hope that in the case of Sardasht the events of the 4th May are revealed in their just and true light and that it is made clear that we will not rest until this innocent murder is given a true and extensive investigation if the guilty parties are not prepared to come forward themselves.

Sardasht Osman loved life; that was the reason for his writing. He never wanted to live surrounded by death. In the twentieth century Nazism and Communism were twin evils, always remembered side by side alongside each other. In this century terror and dictatorship should be the same, as today terror brings horrors and dictators related to crime. What happened in Erbil is the result of the pressures of power in the south of Kurdistan. The outcome of this investigation is nothing other than a brutal cut of the people’s voice. The scales of this pain are extreme, extremes which are waking me, and a considerable amount of others, up during the night.

The reluctance of opposition parties, and, in particular the Gorran Party, in questioning this patchy statement, wrongly suggests that Gorran leaders are commanding the same path as others. I am literally lost; I do not know what the Gorran movement now stands for. It serves to strengthen the perception that Gorran is alarmingly close to following the path of tribalism.

Finally, in order for the KRG to win the trust and credibility of their people, we need an open and transparent court and investigation committee that have no ties with any ruling parties. A witness should be called forward to televise a detailed account of exactly what happened and allow justice and respect to prevail for the life of this innocent ambitious young man.



One Response to Double dip sorrow for family of journalist Sardasht Osman
  1. Patrick Woodcock
    May 8, 2012 | 22:21

    Not only Kurds care about Sardasht – here is the new video from Canadian poet Patrick Woodcock – taken from his new book Echo Gods and Silent Mountains – written while living for two years in the Kurdish North of Iraq:

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