The case of attacking and insulting a TV reporter and his cameraman by a number of guards of a fuel warehouse in Erbil, has been resolved, after being told that "action has been taken by senior officials.”
Hoshmand Sadiq, reporter of Erbil-based Kurdistan 24 TV, and his cameraman were attacked by a number of guards of a petrol warehouse while covering a fire blaze at the warehouse between Erbil and Goer sub-district on December 27th, 2022. They also confiscated his camera and journalistic equipment.
According to a video released by Kurdistan 24, a number of people vow and demand that the camera be turned off. “No one knows what you are,” they yell at the reporter and the cameraman.
One of them says he is the owner of the refinery. Another, who identifies himself as an intelligence officer, swears louder and threatens, "I work for the intelligence, who dares team to speak?”
Then Sadiq says, "They will raise their hands and beat us." Another replies, "We didn't say don't get into trouble?”
"Aren't you Channel 24?" another guard asked during the threat. "Yes," Sadiq says. The guard says, “Let's go.”
After the conversation, Sadiq and his cameraman are forced to leave the site.
Kurdistan 24 is a Kurdish broadcast news TV station based in Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR.
Hoshmand Sadiq and his cameraman are attacked. Video: Kurdistan 24
The local and international organizations, human rights advocates members of the Iraqi and Kurdistan parliaments MPs expressed their grave concern that freedom of press and expression is increasingly under threat all over Iraq including the Kurdistan Region of Iraq KRI.
The Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq PFAA monitored 280 cases of violations against journalists from May 3, 2021 to May 3, 2022, which marks World Press Freedom Day. Baghdad and Erbil were ranked first with 56 violations, followed by Kirkuk province with 37 cases.
According to the report of the Iraqi Kurdistan Union of Journalists, out of 62 violations against journalists in the first six months of last year, most of the violations, 20 cases, were discrimination.
According to the Metro Center's 2021 report, out of 353 violations against journalists, 189 were discriminatory, over 50% of the total violations.
“When we learned that the refinery was on fire, we went to the scene with the cameraman and started broadcasting live for Kurdistan 24. During the broadcast, a number of armed men came and one of them introduced himself as an intelligence officer,” he recalls.
“They took the microphone and camera, then threatened to beat us.”
Hoshmand says he was not allowed to cover the incident.
"They treated us very badly. We have encountered such situations dozens of times and we are almost getting used to it."
They treated us very badly. We have encountered such cases dozens of times
According to the first paragraph of Article 7 of the Kurdistan Regional Government's KRG Press Law of 2007, journalists are independent in performing their professional duties and there is no authority over them except the rule of the law. A
rticle 4 of the same article states that "journalists have the right to attend conferences and public activities.”
According to the applicable laws, journalists can file complaints against those who commit violence against them.
“I did not file a complaint against him because after the video was released, I was told that necessary action had been taken against him,” Sadiq said.
Sadiq did not explain what the action was or who did it. "I don't know if he was arrested or not. After several hours of the violation, they returned all the journalistic materials to us," he added.
According to the Press Law, anyone who insults or assaults a journalist because of his work is subject to the same penalties as for assaulting a civil servant during the performance of his duties.
KirkukNow could not contact the refinery for further details.
Hoshmand Sadiq, who has been working in the media for more than 10 years, is concerned about the repetition of these violations against journalists in the IKR.
"We journalists have only one goal: to convey information and facts to the people.”
Erbil police spokesman Hogir Aziz said they were aware of the violation, but “no one has filed a complaint and we have not investigated the case because it was not within our jurisdiction.”
No one has filed a complaint and we have not investigated the case
The privately operated refinery is under the control of the KRG and is located within Erbil province.
"I know from you (KirkukNow) that this violation has occurred," said Nazakat Hussein, head of the committee to defend the rights of journalists in the Kurdistan Union of Journalists.
"We investigated the case, we gave everything to the Committee to Protect Journalists' Rights and they will finally decide what to do with the case," she said the next day.
"We hope that people will treat journalists with respect and properly so that we can pursue our profession properly," said Sadiq, who has now dropped his case.