Federal police detain two journalists south of Kirkuk

Halo Jabari, reporter, and Ako Banayi, cameraman, of Kurdistan TV, of the Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP, were arrested by police for follow up of burning farms in Daquq. Facebook account of Halo Jabari

By KirkukNow

The Iraqi Federal Police have detained two journalists belonging working for a TV channel for the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in a district south of Kirkuk.

Halo Jabari, correspondent of for the Kurdistan TV channel in Kirkuk, and Ako Banayi, a cameraman, were arrested by the federal police in southern Daquq district on Wednesday.

"Six military vehicles came and told us that we did not have permission to visit the area without the permission of the security forces," Jabari told KirkukNow.

“They interrogated us there. We said we had only come to cover the burning of farmers' grain... Then they asked us to fill out a pledge and signed it, and then they released us,” Halo said.

They made us fill out a pledge and sign it, and then they released us

"We are not allowed to visit the area again, the pledge indicated.”

The security situation in Daquq district, south of Kirkuk, is under control of the Iraqi army, but in several villages in the south of the district, the federal police are in charge of the security of the area.

The extremist militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS targeted and shot at farmers in the village of Sami Aasi in the Taza sub-district of Daquq on Monday.

According to the security media cell, six farmers were killed while harvesting their wheat farms. Three vehicles were burnt in the attack. In the same attack south of Kirkuk, 30 acres of grain land were burnt yet later it was brought under control by the fire brigade.

"The security forces have considered the villages in the south and southwest of Daquq district as a military zone and any visit to the area requires security permission," a security source told KirkukNow.

According to Article 10 of the Iraqi Law of the Rights of Journalists No. 21 of 2011, a journalist cannot be questioned or investigated for a crime charged against him, except by a judge.

Jabari stressed that they both had the channel's ID and shown it to the security forces, but the security forces insisted the need for a security permit.

According to the Kurdistan Union of Journalists, 12% of the violations against journalists in four years (beginning of 2017 to the end of 2020) were in Kirkuk. The union publishes its statistics annually in the Kurdistan Region and Kirkuk provinces.

According to the Union of Journalists; 138 cases of violations were registered in the Kurdistan Region in 2021, including 25 in Kirkuk.

There are 13 different security forces in Kirkuk province. Earlier, officials of the Kirkuk branch of the Kurdistan Union of Journalists told KirkukNow that the number of forces has an impact on the spike of violations. Currently, Iraqi army, local and federal police, Brigade 61 of Special Forces along with Shiite paramilitary of Popular Mobilization Forces PMF, are under Kirkuk joint operations’ command, an umbrella for the security forces running the security of Kirkuk province. 

Located 238 kilometers north of Baghdad, the oil-rich city of Kirkuk is an ethnically mixed province for 1,7 million Kurds, Sunni and Shiite Arabs, and Turkmens. It has long been at the center of disputes between Baghdad and the Erbil. 

The Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq PFAA, a local Iraqi organization, recorded 280 cases of various violations against Iraqi journalists last year (May 3, 2021 to May 2, 2022), with Baghdad and Erbil provinces ranking first with 56 violations, while Kirkuk ranked the second where 37 cases were reported.

According to the report, the violations included assassination attempt, storming and armed attacks, abduction, death threats, abuse during coverage, filing lawsuits for intimidation according to laws drafted during “the dictatorship era” in reference to the rule of Baath Party chaired by Saddam Hussein, arrest and detention, beatings, prevention and obstruction of coverage, TV channel closure and illegal layoffs.

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