Kawa Germyani: From an Anfal survivor to a victim of free speech

Aram J Sabir

By Aram J Sabir:

Strange! Even Anfal didn’t teach anything to those freedom fighters of yesterday.

As result of practicing self-governance after 1991, the political atmosphere in the Kurdistan region (KR) was different to other parts of Iraq. This paved the way for journalism to develop further in the KR than in other parts of Iraq. This was particularly obvious when the first issue of Hawlati newspaper – as an independent media outlet – was published on 5/11/2000.

Before Hawlati, a majority of the KR media ‘Radio, TV, and Print’ were affiliated with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and some other small political parties. Thereafter, other independent media outlet emerged such as Awene newspaper Lvin Magazine, Nawa Radio, Kalar Voice Radio, and NRT TV – all of them based in the Slemani province, often referred to as the cultural capital. After the establishment of Hawlati, the ruling PUK and KDP have continuously made attempts to discredit and/or even control independent media and reclaim its audience through establishing shadow media such as Aso newspaper, Xendan radio and news site, Rudaw newspaper, Chawder weekly, Hawler newspaper, and Bas newspaper – all of which are directly owned and managed by members of the PUK and KDP leadership councils.

In so far as this is considered as competition, it is normal. However, what is not normal is that the budgets of these shadow media outlets are provided from the national budget! Worse still, the PUK and KDP’s private security agencies are posing constant pressure to independent journalists. The most common form of pressure is intimidation, threats, shooting, arrests, kidnapping, damaging equipment, and sometimes even extreme measures such as assassinations.

Those assassinated until recently included: Dr Abdulsatr Tahir Sharif in Kerkuk, Soran Mama-Hama on 22/7/2009 in front of his house in Kerkuk (after publishing several reports in Lvin Magazine on the Barzani family and women trafficking bands in Kerkuk), and Sardasht Osman on 5/5/2011 (who was kidnapped in front of his university in Hawler; his body was found several days later in Mosul city).

What is even more striking is that this series of assassinations has taken place following the ratification of the law 35 of year 2007 which is in line with the international standard in terms of human rights and freedom of speech. In reality the threats against journalism have since accelerated rapidly and the law hasn’t been implemented in the Kurdistan Region courts.

Kawa Germyani as a victim of multiple issues.

Kawa Germyani, 1982-2013

Kawa Germyani, 1982-2013

The common denominator between Kawa and those previously assassinated is the fact that their publications contained criticism of powerful members of the PUK and KDP leadership. Kawa talked about the involvement of two PUK politburo members in corruption. Here we have learned that the writers are assassinated, not because they have criticised the political parties but the bad practices of the powerful individuals within them. This is telling us that there are individuals within the political parties who have formed dangerous mafia-like bands, willing to take extreme measures – including assassinations – without any due-regard to the law and government, in order to ensure that their corruption and epic-oil-related interests remain intact.

What distinguishes Kawa’s case from others previously assassinated is the place and the party involved. Dr Star and Soran were assassinated in Kerkuk, which is outside the Kurdish administration. But the contents of their publications tell us that decisions to assassinate them were made by secret groups that is geographically within the KDP’s controlled areas, and not outside.

The assassination of Sardasht, in terms of its location and the contents of his publications, removes all doubts as to who gave the orders to murder him.

Hence what differentiates Kawa’s case from others is that, in terms of location, the crime was committed within the PUK-controlled area; which was geographically at the centre of the Anfal Campaign. Even more tragic is that Kawa’s family are Anfal survivors.

The question is: How can a journalist be murdered at the hands of the freedom fighters who fought Saddam Hussain’s regime 25 ago when the Anfal campaign took place?

Aram Sabir is a civil society activist and director of the Kurdish Institute for Elections. 

3 Responses to Kawa Germyani: From an Anfal survivor to a victim of free speech
  1. HAVAL
    December 31, 2013 | 12:31

    well done for such a well balanced piece of work

  2. Ari Ali
    December 31, 2013 | 19:51

    money greed arrogance patronising law and innocent peoples. In civilised places , If a dog was killed in this way , the prosecutors would not sleep until they find the perptrators and bring them to justice . Now here is a series of murders in the daylight yet nothing is done about it .

    If KR is ruled by mafias then it is perhaps time to do something about it. This is everyone responsibility . Else , you or I my well be the next victims .

  3. Ari Berzi
    January 23, 2016 | 12:20

    I have read the Human Rights Report issued by Mss. Donatella Rovera from amnesty international regarding the Kurdish Peshmarge.
    The report is issued for a political reason only and it is not fair.
    I think Mss. Rovera has been payed for that by one of the Arab Countries .
    Where was Ms. Rovera when the kurd has been genocided and ethnic cleanined by Arabs in Iraq and Syria in the last 50 years.
    Did Ms. Rovera say anything about what Turkey does and still doing against the Kurd and denying any rights of over 20 million kurd in Turkey.
    I am sure she is corrupted and has been payed for the report.
    To the attention of Mss. Donatella Rovera,

    The Most Bloody and Barbaric Nation in the Universe is Turkish.
    They killed:
    ⦁ 1.5 Million Armenians.
    ⦁ Thousands of thousands of Greeks.
    ⦁ Thousands of thousands of Bulgarians.
    ⦁ Millions of Kurds.
    Turkey is not much better than ISIS
    Turkey should be kicked out from NATO and punished severely
    PKK is not a terrorist.
    Turkey is the only terrorist.
    I believe Afghanistan Taliban is more reliable and compatible than Turkey to be a member of the European Union.
    Bulgarian genocide
    More than 5,000 of the 7,000 inhabitants of the Bulgarian town of Batak, including women and children, were raped, slaughtered, beheaded or burned alive by Ottoman irregulars who left piles of dead bodies around the town square and church in 1876, giving start of the April Uprising.
    The Greek genocide, part of which is known as the Pontic genocide, was the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Christian Ottoman Greek population from its historic homeland in Asia Minor, central Anatolia, Pontus, and the former Russian Caucasus province of Kars Oblast during World War I and its aftermath (1914–23). It was instigated by the government of the Ottoman Empire against the Greek population of the Empire and it included massacres, forced deportations involving death marches, summary expulsions, arbitrary executions, and destruction of Christian Orthodox cultural, historical and religious monuments. According to various sources, several hundred thousand Ottoman Greeks died during this period.[3] Some of the survivors and refugees, especially those in Eastern provinces, took refuge in the neighbouring Russian Empire. After the end of the 1919–22 Greco-Turkish War, most of the Greeks remaining in the Ottoman Empire were transferred to Greece under the terms of the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey. Other ethnic groups were similarly attacked by the Ottoman Empire during this period, including Assyrians and Armenians, and some scholars consider those events to be part of the same policy of extermination.
    Armenian genocide
    In April 1915 the Ottoman government embarked upon the systematic decimation of its civilian Armenian population. The persecutions continued with varying intensity until 1923 when the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist and was replaced by the Republic of Turkey. The Armenian population of the Ottoman state was reported at about two million in 1915. An estimated one million had perished by 1918, while hundreds of thousands had become homeless and stateless refugees. By 1923 virtually the entire Armenian population of Anatolian Turkey had disappeared.
    Kurd genocide
    Since the Armenian genocide, Turkey has done very well to hide and disguise its dark history from the international community. But a shady past rarely dawns a bright future.
    Instead, Turkey is re-branding itself with Europe-friendly terms to essentially get rid of what it has always wanted to be rid of. Turkey’s tidy up of its language: words with a distinct Kurdish origin wiped out and replaced. Indeed, anything that is not strictly Turkish has been linked to “terrorism” – a trigger word guaranteed to win the sympathies of the international community.
    The Turkish constitution does not recognise Kurds in Turkey, and so often labels them as terrorists, providing a convenient scapegoat for military uprisings and other political issues. Thus, “terrorist” becomes a synonym for Kurds.
    Turkey frequently argues that the PKK is a terrorist organisation; hence all Kurdish organisations are banned for what they may imply.
    Turkey committing genocide campaign against the Kurd in South Turkey and in Syria using ISIS (Supporting ISIS by all means).

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