Kurdish journalist killed in northern Iraq
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) deplores Kurdish journalist Nuzhian Arhan’s death on 22 March from the gunshot injury she sustained while covering fighting in northern Iraq three weeks ago.
Aged 30, Tuba Akyılmaz, known professionally as Nuzhian Arhan, was a Turkish citizen. She worked for Sujin, a feminist news website, and for RojNews, a news agency that supports Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
She was hit in the head by sniper fire on 3 March in the mainly Yazidi city of Sinjar, where she was covering clashes between forces affiliated to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the YBS, a Yazidi militia allied with PKK.
She died in a hospital in Al-Hasakah, in northern Syria, where she had been taken for treatment of her injuries.
“As the toll of journalists killed while covering the conflict in Iraq continues to rise, we call on the Iraqi forces to ensure the safety of the reporters who risk their lives to cover the fighting,” said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “Under no circumstances should these reporters be at the front line of the fighting or in areas likely to have been mined.”
According to Sujin, the sniper fire hitting the journalist came from the KDP forces. Two other journalists with Cira TV, a Kurdish channel, were also injured the same day.
Nuzhian Arhan is the second journalist to be killed in Iraq since the start of the year. The first was Shifa Zikri Ibrahim, a Kurdish reporter for Rudaw TV who was known professionally as Shifa Gardi. Aged 30, she was killed by the blast of an improvised explosive device in a road in Al-Mamun, a western suburb of Mosul, on 25 February. Her cameraman, Yunis Mustafa, survived the explosion.
Iraq is ranked 158th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.