Sardasht Osman Remembered on the Ninth Anniversary of his Murder

Sardasht Osman

Sardasht Osman

By Ismael Aziz:

Journalists and human rights activists have been remembering Sardasht Osman, who was murdered nine years ago this month. On 5 May, the 23-year-old Kurdish freelance journalist and anti-corruption campaigner was commemorated across the Kurdistan Region and around the world.

In Kurdistan’s Erbil region, there was a gathering at Sardasht Osman’s graveside in the village of Azaban. In Sulaymani, a group of writers and journalists held a vigil in front of the local university and there were also commemorations held in the cities of Kalar and Ranya. In the UK, Kurds and other human rights activists attended events called by the Kurdistan communist party in London, in front of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) offices, and in Manchester. Commemorations were also held in Gottenburg (Sweden), Brussels (Belgium), and Vancouver (Canada).

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued a statement saying: “The CPJ calls on Iraqi officials to reinvestigate Sardasht Osman’s murder and hold the penetrators accountable”. On its website the CPJ clearly identifies ‘government officials’ as the likely suspects for the murder and says the crime has taken place with ‘complete impunity’.

People are still asking about what happened and how this young man became a victim of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) after he criticised the KRG and the Barzani family’s power and wealth. On 13 December 2009, he published a satirical poem with the title “I am in love with Barzani’s daughter”, in which he compared how vastly different his life would be as a member of the Barzani family compared to that of an ordinary Kurdish citizen. It attracted a widespread readership all over the world. After being intimidated and sent death threats, he published another article on 2 January 2010 entitled, “Neither the President Nor his Daughter are God”. This was published in his own name and carried his photograph. On 20 January, he published a further article entitled, “The First Warrant For My Death Has Been Issued”.

In this article he explained that members of the security apparatus surrounding the Barzani family had sent him messages threatening to kill him. However, no one in authority in Erbil paid heed to this or responded to his call for help and protection. A few months later, on 4 May 2010, Sardasht Osman was abducted in front of the College of Literature, University of Salahadin, in Erbil by security officers driving a white-plated airbus vehicle. The next day his body was found, dumped in the city of Mosul.

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