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Kurdish reporter murdered, another killed while covering fighting

Wedat Hisen Ali murdered in Duhok
Wedat Hisen Ali murdered in Duhok


This statement was originally published on on 16 August 2016.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns a Kurdish reporter's brutal murder on 13 August in Dahuk, in the northeast of Iraqi Kurdistan, and a TV cameraman's death the next day while covering fighting between Kurdish forces and Islamic State near Mosul.

Widat Hussein Ali, a 28-year-old reporter for RojNews, a news agency that supports the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), was kidnapped and then murdered. According to local media reporters, he was abducted in the morning and his body was found at the side of a road shortly after midday with marks suggesting that he may have been tortured to death. Nevertheless, the motive is still unknown. The Dohuk police said they have opened an investigation. The murder was also firmly condemned by the UN secretary-general's deputy special representative for Iraq.

Mustafa Saeed, a cameraman with Kurdistan TV, a satellite TV channel owned by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (PDK), was killed on 14 August while covering the fighting in the east of the city of Mosul (400 km north of Baghdad) between Islamic State and kurdish forces.

He and Kurdistan TV reporter Hayman Nanqli, who was badly injured, were embedded with Kurdish security forces.

RSF urges the authorities to do everything possible to shed light on these crimes and to ensure that those responsible for the violence are brought to justice.
“Although journalists in Iraqi Kurdistan are often the victims of threats, intimidation, attacks and arbitrary arrest, little action is taken to render them justice,” said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of RSF's Middle East desk.

“We remind the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) that media freedom constitutes one of the foundations of democracy and we therefore urge the KRG authorities to deploy the necessary means to protect journalists' work.”

Demonstrations were held today in Erbil and other Kurdish cities in protest against Ali's murder. Friends and colleagues of Ali say he told them he had been threatened by members of the Asayish (the Kurdish security forces) and that he felt he was being followed.

Kurdistan and Iraq in general are characterized both by violence against media personnel and by a significant level of impunity for those responsible for attacking or murdering journalists. Iraq is ranked 158th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

What other IFEX members are saying
  • Iraqi Kurdistan: Kurdish Journalist Abducted, Killed

    The KRG should provide serious answers about how it came to be that this journalist was kidnapped and killed in broad daylight, following repeated interrogations by Asayish forces. He is one of dozens of journalists in KRG territory who have been killed, beaten, detained, or harassed.

  • Kurdish PEN condemns the torture & killing of journalist Wedat Hussein Ali

    Wadat Ali, born in Duhok in 1988, signed an employment contract with us few months ago and started working as a journalist, but from the moment he started until the day he was killed he had no problems of any kind with anyone. It is worth mentioning however that the security forces in Duhok had called him to their office for interrogation several times during the last few days prior to the day he was killed.

  • Journalist Wedat Hussein Ali tortured and killed in the town of Duhok

    In a statement to the GCHR, human rights defender and co-ordinator of the Sulaimaniyah-based Metro Centre to Defend Journalists, Rahman Gharib said, “The chronic problem that we are facing in Kurdistan is impunity.” He added “Four other journalists were killed before in our region and no one was brought to justice in relation to these crimes.”

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