Reporters Without Borders condemns yesterday’s murder of Kawa Germyani, the editor of the magazine Rayal and a correspondent for the newspaper Awene, in Kalar (140 km south of Sulaymaniyah), in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. He was shot at around 9 p.m. by gunmen who then fled.
“We are appalled by Germyani’s murder and offer our heartfelt condolences to his family and colleagues,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“A professional journalist who covered corruption and nepotism in Iraqi Kurdistan, Germyani knew he was in danger and had told the region’s authorities about the threats he had received. His murder could have been avoided if they had taken the necessary measures to protect him.
“We are worried about the very dangerous climate for journalists both in Iraqi Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq, and about the impunity enjoyed by their attackers and killers. We urge the regional and national authorities to take the appropriate measures so that journalists can work without fearing for their safety or their lives.”
Reporters Without Borders added: “Both the authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan and the central government in Baghdad should be conducting thorough investigations into the murders of journalists and the groups that target them.”
According to the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, Germyani had been threatened for years in connection with his revelations about corruption within Kurdish institutions and had initiated several judicial proceedings against those responsible these threats.
Coincidentally, many Kurdish journalists and civil society representatives had gathered in Sulaymaniyah two days before his murder to press the regional and national authorities to adopt laws guaranteeing media freedom, as well as effective measures to protect journalists and combat impunity for those responsible for violence against them.
Germyani is the third journalist to have been murdered in Iraqi Kurdistan in the past five years. Saran Mama Hama, the magazine Livin’s bureau chief in Kirkuk, was killed in connection with his reporting in July 2008. Freelance journalist Sardasht Osman’s body was found in Mosul on 6 May 2010, two days after he was abducted in Erbil.
Both of these murders remain unpunished. The authorities have never conducted proper investigations.