Different Journalist, Same Crime

December 9, 2013

Much has been said and written about the assassination of journalist Kawa Garmiyani. But fundamentally, the killing has two aspects: First, this is a normal criminal case, which needs a response from the government and authorities. Second, the attack is on press freedom in Kurdistan.
If the authorities are taking what happened seriously, the two aspects should not be confused or mixed into one solution. The authorities should demonstrate their seriousness by acting on both fronts.
Unless otherwise proven and beyond reasonable doubt, Kawa has been killed because of his work. And if the authorities do not get to the bottom of the case and identify in full clarity and transparency the perpetrators and bring them to justice or at least explain the circumstances and the reasons for the crime, then they are either aware of — or implicated in — the crime.
Despite all that has been said and done about this crime, it remains to be seen if the authorities are serious about its dangers and about preventing such crimes from being repeated.
The calls by security authorities to “arrest the perpetrators” should be backed by real political support, both to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice — whoever they were. This should happen even if there are political implications, if it turns out that senior political figures are implicated in the crime.
The government, the presidency and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the political party in charge of authority in these areas, should really take this case all the way to the end, without trying to change it into something else.
The other serious aspect of the case is the attack on any effort by the media to unveil corruption. This will contribute to the bad reputation of the region and Iraq in terms of corruption and restrictions on journalists who try to unveil graft and abuse of power.
The investigation should not stop at the normal criminal case. It should go beyond and discover the reasons for the assassination. One of the strongest effects of an assassination, as such, is to deter other journalists from pursuing cases of corruption or the abuse of power. The authorities are asked to demonstrate that they do not condone such actions and should follow the leads or cases that Kawa was pursuing and reveal them to the public. It is corrupt officials who should be deterred, not journalists trying to expose them.
To this day, no one in Kurdistan has been brought to justice for killing or harming a journalist. Each attack on a journalist will be a black spot on the face of Kurdish rule. The above article could have been written for Zardasht Osman, Soran Mama Hama and others. Because with every new day of inaction and with every new case like Kawa’s, more people are convinced that they were killed because of what they wrote and by the same type of people and authorities who do not want anything done about it.

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