Barzani letter to Bush urges ‘pressure on Turkey’

And nothing has changed…

————————————————–

C O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 002474

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/26/2017

TAGS: PREL IZ TU

Barzani and Bush

SUBJECT: LETTER TO PRESIDENT BUSH FROM KURDISH REGIONAL GOVERNMENT PRESIDENT BARZANI

Classified By: Deputy Political Counselor Charles O. Blaha, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) The following is the text of a letter that was hand-delivered to Ambassador Crocker for transmittal to the President on June 19, 2007. A copy of the letter was transmitted electronically and the original will be pouched.

 

¶2. (C) BEGIN TEXT:

Dear Mr. President, Allow me this opportunity to wish you good health and success in these challenging times. The current situation in our region is indeed unique and fraught with difficulties, but be rest assured that we will continue with our undeterred efforts to overcome these challenges and fully support the new Iraq on the path towards democracy and federalism. Kurdistan already enjoys such an experience in democracy, stability and relative security. However, it is a well known fact that the status of Kurdistan is confronted with further threats from external interventions.

We in Kurdistan are strong advocates of establishing good and friendly relations with our neighbors. We denounce any form of violence and aggression against Turkey and respect her legitimate concerns. However, Ankara’s more recent policies towards Kurdistan region and its new democratic experience are antagonistic and unjustifiable. In fact the very existence of any form of Kurdish identity and entity is perceived by the Turks as a threat to their national security.

Turkey is seeking to employ various reasons to legitimize here intervention in Kurdistan region, one particular pretext being the existence of PKK. With regard to this matter we have stated explicitly that we are prepared to support a political and peaceful solution.

Furthermore, we have expressed our readiness to dispatch our delegations to Ankara to conduct serious dialogue; the Turkish side were always reluctant to accept our initiatives and refused any form of direct contact. Military option can not be a viable one since such operations have failed in the past and will not succeed in the future.

At the present time, the build-up of Turkish troops on our borders has exasperated the situation and has created anxiety amongst our communities nearby, specially with constant shelling of border settlements by Turkish artillery.

Witnessing the political contest in Turkey and the ever increasing pressure of the military on the civilian administration, the threat of a full scale military incursion becomes more evident.

Today Kurdistan is the only secure, stable region and successful model of post liberation Iraq. Should Turkey pursue its goals and embark on a military operation and violate territorial integrity of Iraq that already endures from a highly volatile situation, it will only give this region’s conflict a new and alarming dimension with incalculable damages. Therefore, Mr. President, I strongly urge you to exert all forms of pressure on Turkey to prevent their military adventure, violations of Iraq’s sovereignty and animosity towards people of Kurdistan.

Yours sincerely,

Masoud Barzani. END TEXT.

CROCKER

————————————————–

From Wikileaks

Amnesty International Urges Restraint in Kurdistan

From Amnesty International:

Restraint urged in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region following more protester deaths
21 February 2011

Amnesty International has called on the Kurdistan regional government to rein-in militias affiliated to political parties who killed two protestors on Sunday, as anti-government demonstrations continue in the north of Iraq.

A 17-year-old boy, Serkho Mohammed, was shot dead yesterday as hundreds of demonstrators clashed with government security forces and armed militia belonging to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the city of Sulaimaniya.

A second protester died in hospital today after being shot during the protests, which also left at least 30 people injured. Others were apparently arrested.

“These killings add fuel to an already volatile situation in Sulaimaniya and represent a very worrying, as well as tragic, development,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“It is imperative that the authorities step in and prevent further killings and other abuses, and bring the KDP militia under control and accountable under the law.”

Security forces reportedly opened fired and used tear gas on protesters trying to reach the KDP building, apparently in order to burn it down.

Armed KDP militia have killed three people in Sulaimaniya, including a 15-year-old boy, since protests began outside the party’s main offices on 17 February. The protestors have been calling for an end to corruption.

“The Kurdish authorities must order an immediate independent investigation into these killings and those who perpetrated them must be brought to justice if, as it appears, the killings were unlawful,” said Malcolm Smart.

Since the protests started on 17 February, several buildings of the opposition Goran (Change) party and the headquarters of a newly established TV and radio station have reportedly set on fire.

The KDP and another Kurdish party jointly hold power as the government of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

“The two political parties that jointly rule Iraq’s three Kurdish provinces continue to operate armed militia which act almost as a law unto themselves and have been permitted to commit human rights abuses with impunity,” said Malcolm Smart.

A ‘day of rage’ has been organised for 25 February across Iraq where coordinated demonstrations are expected to take place calling for reforms, including an end to corruption.

More updates on the demonstrations in Kurdistan

More updates from W. Karda. Click on photos to see more of them at Rawaz Rauf’s facebook page.

- The 25th of February has been set as the date for a mass protest throughout the whole of Iraq under the banner No to robbery and corruption.

- Some media outlets have started to write ‘Freedom Square’ instead of ‘Bar Darky Sara Square’, naming it after the famous Egyptian ‘Tahrir (Freedom) Square.’

- Another political party, PCDK, has blamed both PUK and KDP for what happened on Thursday, and demanded they ‘re-check their wrong policies.’

- The protesters have come up with a statement of seven points, which includes (Withdrawal of the Zeravani army and courting those who shot at the crowd on Thursday). They say that the government has only 24 hours to implement these points or else they will resume protests. More here and here.

- A shootout started in Darbandikhan city, which was the result of a fight between college students and police. This led to large-scale protests in the city as well in which protesters are chanting “We are all Rezhwan”. It is reported than in Kalar people are on the move as well to stage a demonstration.

- Another Gorran HQ was set ablaze, this time in Shaqlawa, a resort town in Hawlêr.

- Nawshirwan Mustafa, head of Gorran, refuted the claims that he had fled the country and said he is in Silemani, he stated that ‘[i]t is normal for anyone to travel, right now the president (Massud Barzani) is out of the country and nobody says he has fled.’ He also stated ‘We have said before that those channels (media) are based on (lies) and (money), their lies are starting to appear and the people are about to take their money away from them as well.’

- It is reported that, opposite to what was claimed earlier, no arrest warrant has been issued for Faruq Rafiq.

- Gorran finally revealed its formal position by stating ‘We are inline with the people’s demands and requests (the seven issued points).’ They have also come up with their own statement in which they demand five points from the government including: Forming an investigation team, charging those who shot at people, withdrawal of the army from the city, freeing all those who were arrested and are kept in jail, and listening to protesters and fulfilling their demands.

- Earlier today, it was reported that this night all of the political parties will gather to discuss the latest developments with the Islamic Union spearheading the call for such negotiations. But still, there is no news such a meeting has taken place. Awene reported that this Monday, all sides will meet in order to calm the situation and re-stabilize the region.

- Tomorrow protests will be held in both Sweden and London in support of the protests of Silemani.

- Students from the University of Silemani have stated that they will not enter classrooms until their demands are met.

Protests and violence continue in Slêmanî

Updates for Saturday, 19 February (submitted by W. Karda):

- Based on Lvin, the shootout in February 17th which resulted in dozens of civilian victims was committed under the order of Fadhil Mirani, a high official in the KDP. Fadhil Mirani had ordered Branch 4 security not to spare anyone, even if the shooting resulted in killing civilians. See this link.

- In the protests of yesterday, February 18, 25 protesters were arrested and were delivered to Ma’askar Salam Prison.

- In a press conference, Nechirvan Barzani didn’t condemn the shooting and justified it by saying ‘If the protesters had come and killed our members, would that be right? This is something that must be investigated.’ He also states: ‘We demand the government to investigate this issue and we think that wrong was done upon us, an investigation must be carried out and the guilty (amongst protesters) must be brought to the court, this is our request.’ Surprisingly, he didn’t utter a single word about those who shot at the crowd and killed and wounded dozens..!

- Dr. Barham Salih, the Prime Minister of Kurdistan region has announced that they have formed an investigation team. He said: ‘This team (committee) will investigate what happened in front of Branch 4 on Thursday. After the investigations, whoever is found guilty of the chaos will be revealed on TV and be brought to court and dealt with.’ He too, again, didn’t talk at all about bringing those who shot at the people to justice.

- It is planned that on Sunday, February 20th, a group of Kurds in Stockholm in Sweden to arrange a demonstration to protest against the killing of civilians and the allowance of a massive army into the city of Silemani.

- Yesterday, some groups in the University of Silemani announced they are preparing themselves to demonstrate the next day (today) protesting the massive influx of Zeravani army into the city, the shooters to be brought to justice and Barzani himself to apologize to the people of Silemani. It is not yet clear if the protest by the students took place today or not.

- The students of College of Arts in Khanaqin had planned to wear black today for the same aforementioned reasons.

- The father of one of the victims has complained that the name of his son is nowhere to be found. While many media outlets showed the photo of a young boy wearing a red shirt and blue jeans whose head was bleeding and identified him as Rezhwan Ali, the only death so far announced. But actually, Rezhwan was wearing a black jeans and the boy in the photo is Zmnako Rzgar, who, according to his father, is in a very unstable health condition and in intensive care. Doctors say ‘his brain has stopped working but his heart is still beating.’ Zmnako is 16. More here.

- Yesterday, a group under the name of Khopishandarani Khorsk demanded to carry out another demonstration the next day (today) in Silemani in Bar Darky Sara Square, then march to Mawlawi Street, and from there to Branch 4.

- The protest took place today with Farouq Rafiq, a well-known intellectual was among the crowd, who demanded that the KDP army, Zeravani forces, to withdraw from the city and also for the shooters and head of Branch 4 to be brought to court for killing and wounding civilians. It is said that he has also stated that ‘Bardarky Sara square is our Freedom Square, we will not move away until our demands are met.’

- Thousands of protesters gathered today for the same aforementioned reasons. They were chanting ‘What do you want Silemani, the withdrawal of Zeravani’, ‘Silemani doesn’t fear the forces of Zeravani,’ and ‘In raining and hailing, Slemani has high morale.’ Riot police are trying to block their way by using electrified batons and also water pumps from firefighter vehicles. Many shops are closed and the situation seems extremely tense.

- A confrontation took place between demonstrators and riot police, protesters forced some police to flee after showering them with rocks. Protesters destroyed a firefighter vehicle after it ran out of water, in exchange riot police pushed back by using force and arrested some of them.

- Protest continues, they are chanting ‘Zeravani get out’ and ‘Down with Barzani.

- Things just got out of hand, in a very urgent news by local media, riot police started to shoot at the crowd to disperse them, so far one is wounded.

- Shooting continues, the protesters have run into the streets and ambulances are rushing to scene. Tension is sky high.

- Hawlati reports that although the crowd has dispersed, police are chasing after them street by street and is shooting at them.

- Protest continues. Protesters are burning wood and tiers on the streets so that firefighters turn their attention away from them, shooting also continues.

- A huge force has entered the Emergency Hospital to arrest the wounded protesters. So far, 10 protesters are wounded and 2 riot police.

- DPK is on high alert in Garmyan and has filled its bases and HQs with dozens of soldiers.

- The building of the Student Union, a KDP-sponsored student organization, was just set ablaze by protesters in Silemani.

- Talabani just reached Silemani and is planning to hold an immediate emergency meeting.

- A force, wearing civilian clothing, has started shooting at protesters.

- Chaos abounds..! Division amongst police.! Security forces and riot police started fighting each other and directed their guns at each other after a group of them refused to hit the protesters and tried to stop the other ones from hitting the civilians.

- Zeravani forces have spread throughout Bazian, a town very close to Silemani.

- Protester numbers is increasing with an extremely heavy military presence throughout the city.

- Security forces are taking photo of the protesters, most likely to identify them later and arrest them.  See more here.

-More photos can be viewed here.

News roundup and analysis from Kurdistan

Many thanks to W. Karda for sending this to Kurdistan Commentary…

Tank on the street as part of heavy military presence in the city

The mentality of the Silemani people is that while they don’t like the ruling parties, they excessively hate the KDP, and especially its leader, Massud Barzani. This reason alongside what has been going on in the Arab countries, plus all the pumping and fueling by Gorran for days now, revolutionary sentiments in the people were extremely high in order to do something, and the most vulnerable are the youth. Looking at the bits and pieces of videos we have, it is clear that the vast majority of the protestors in front of (Branch 4) of KDP HQ were younger than 18.

Their method of protesting was incredibly uncivilized, throwing stones and shouting as if it was some sort of fun party. But nonetheless, nothing justifies showering the whole population with bullets, killing several and wounding dozens. They could’ve at least thrown some smoke gas, tear gas, rubber bullets. Hell, even flash bangs. But to use live ammunition on the sons of your own nation simply because they were throwing stones is barbaric at best.

This is not only widened the gap between the people and the ruling parties, or between the ruling parties and Gorran, but in fact it drifted apart the ruling parties between themselves. KDP was quick to accuse PUK, who have control over security in Silemani, that they didn’t do enough to protect the KDP HQ and hence forced their security guards to open fire in order to save themselves. This, in fact, is correct. PUK hardly sent any security force riot police to defend the HQ. Due to that, KDP’s (Zeravani) army, a highly professional, well-equipped, large force was sent to safeguard KDP areas in Silemani. Last night it was reported that the PUK forces, led by Kosrat Rasul, clashed with the Zeravani police in Bazian. But this morning reports say that the city is crawling with KDP forces, especially near (Branch 4), and it is reported than even more soldiers are near (Bakrajo), the gateway into Silemani, ready to come into the city if things go wrong. And Kosrat’s army has surrounded the city.

Today will be critical and will decide what may happen in the coming days, if things are calm today, then the situation will calm. But based on articles and reports, it doesn’t seem like that. Hawlati just reported that protesters have gathered again near (Branch 4) to resume demonstrations, Gorran is pouring more fuel onto the fire and have stated that those who shot at the crowd yesterday must be brought to justice. The KRG office in London was infiltrated by protesters in demand of DPK’s army leaving Silemani and also demanded justice on those who shot at the crowd. Many people have gathered near Gorran HQ in Silemani as a way to shield it after reports appeared claiming that the DPK is planning to overtake it after Gorran’s HQ in Hawler, Duhok and Soran were set ablaze and were looted. Also waves of arrests seem to be in motion. This morning at 10.45, an activist (Azhi Jamal) was arrested in his home and his laptop was confiscated.

An article just now from Hawlati reported that Dr.Barham Salih and Kosrat Rasul didn’t allow entry to any of the KDP forces and they have said (Silemani doesn’t need any more forces). It also states that PUK is currently negotiating with Gorran, and later today, PUK will have a meeting with DPK in (Salahdin resort). So there are conflicting reports about KDP’s existence in Silemani.

Things are still tense, more and more facebook pages are being made and it seems like today is a deciding factor, if protesters go out full force, which I doubt, it will wreck havoc in the entire region and will lead to more bloodshed. But if things calm down a bit and the political parties reach a conclusion, especially Gorran, which seems to have backed down a bit, then things will get normal after some time. We only have to wait and see and hope for the best.

It seems like the situation has calmed down a bit on the streets, as expected. But still the major headlines of today are:

- Inline with my expectations, Awene newspaper expects that the relation between the three main parties will normalize after the aforementioned meetings. Hawlati states that right now, the meeting is ongoing. Until the final decision is issued, the DPK security forces will remain on the borders of Silemani.

- Rudaw.net reports that last night, Mala Bakhtiar from PUK met with Gorran officials to calm the situation. Today, Gorran gave a statement demanding extensive meetings with the two parties in less than 48 hours. The statement in which Gorran accuses both parties and their security forces harshly can be found here.

- In another statement, both PUK and DPK have demanded the government investigate yesterday’s incidents and to find out who were behind the protests. (This is quite strange, because PUK and DPK ARE the government, so basically they are asking themselves to carry such investigations).

- In Garmyan province, PUK and DPK have tightened the security in fears of riot, especially in Kalar city.

- Nechirvan Barzani too blamed the PUK and Silemany security for not guarding their base yesterday.

- A group by the name of (Chatri Azadi) meaning (Freedom Umbrella) took control over KRG office in London for more that 45 minutes, you can read a detailed article about this here.

- According to Awene newspaper, the head of healthcare refused to give accurate statistics and names of the victims of yesterday “Because of security reasons.” Although Awene gives the numbers; 57 wounded, 30 of them by bullets, out of those 30, 24 of them were hit in their legs or hands and 6 in their abdomens, two of them at are at an extremely dangerous and life threatening positions. The 30 people wounded by bullets have undergone surgery, the health of 70% of these is unstable.

- Dr. Kamal Said Qadir, A Kurdish activist living in Austria, has pressed charges against Massud Barzani in a European court under charges of shooting at innocent people.

- Another Gorran department was burned in (Bna Slawa), making it fourth after Hawler, Duhok and Soran. Based on Awene website, six Gorran HQs in Hawler and Duhok governorates are being held by DPK security. Gorran members are still not allowed to return to these buildings.

- Over 50 organizations and leading figures have made a statement asking for reconciliation and dialogue amongst all sides. The statement can be found in Kurdish here.

- Movement of both cars and pedestrians were forbidden in front of (Branch 4), with an extremely heavy military presence in front of it. Especially from the evening, the whole city streets are filled with military tanks and vehicles, which has worried the locals.

- This dusk, small scale protests resumed, but in a very recent Hawlati news, local security has dispersed the protesters even journalists by using fire fighter’s water pumps and have even arrested a score of the protesters in Mawlawi street.

- Some photos from yesterday can be found here.

- In a press conference in Hawler, Nechirvan Barzani stated that they do not point any fingers in yesterday’s incident and that they had warned Silemani security forces several days earlier about such attack but “Silemani security forces didn’t have any reaction during the incident.”

-Meanwhile, Fadhil Mirani, a top official in KDP stated “We do not assault anyone but do not accept assaults from anyone as well, that is why whoever attack our bases (HQs) we will cut their hands.”

- Lvin states that one full bus of arrested protesters has been taken to (Ma’askar Salam prison), but the head of the prison has not taken those arrested simply because the arresters didn’t have any statement from the court. But the prison chief is under a lot of pressure to take the arrested people.

- Some intellectuals from Australia have strongly condemned the “Silemani massacre” and have stated that the president again proved that he is the head of militia party and whenever he wants, he orders to commit such massacres. Full report here.

- A group of graduated students from college and institutions have said that if the government do not listen to them, they will set themselves on fire.

For whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee, Sardasht Osman.

Sardasht Osman

Does anyone really believe the findings of the Sardasht Osman murder investigation? It doesn’t seem so. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said the report lacks credibility and it was ‘dismayed by the deficient inquiry.’ Reporters without Borders called the inquiry ‘unconvincing.’ A group of Kurdish journalists meeting in Suleimania with the Metro Centre press freedom group called the inquiry ‘disappointing.’ They are, without a doubt, being polite in their public statements.

Sardasht’s brother, Bakr Osman, condemned the findings calling them ‘baseless.’ In a statement issued in Hewlêr (Erbil), Bakr and other family members expressed their resentment and called for an independent inquiry.

On 04 May of this year unidentified gunmen approached Osman on the university campus where he was a final-year English student, beat him and dragged him into a white passenger van. He was found shot to death in Mosul two days later. His body was dumped outside the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) headquarters. He had two bullet wounds through the mouth, a symbolic punishment for someone who has spoken out.

Osman, 23, was a student at the University of Salahaddin- Hewlêr, a reporter for Ashtiname and a regular contributor to independent news Websites Sbei, Awene, Hawlati, and Lvinpress. He would have graduated in June.

Family members grieve at Sardasht Osman's funeral

Shortly after his death, Osman’s brother Beshdar told CPJ that he was convinced that Sardasht was killed because of a critical article he wrote in the independent daily Ashtiname in April about a high-ranking KRG official. ‘In the last few months my brother received a number of phone threats, demanding that he stop meddling in government affairs,’ said the brother back in May.

Osman also penned a satirical Web-based piece for the Kurdistan Post, I am in love with Massoud Barzani’s daughter, in which he envisioned himself as Barzani’s son-in-law with all the luxurious trappings and benefits that go along with being part of the ruling family. For example, he wrote that he ‘would hire a couple Italian doctors to treat [my diabetic mother] in the comfort of her own house. For my uncles, I would open few offices and departments and they, along with all my nieces and nephews would become high generals, officers, and commanders.’

Criticism of the government’s actions or its ruling elite is not tolerated, however. Reporters Without Borders believes that the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) and PUK, the two ruling parties that control Kurdistan, have reached a ‘tacit strategic accord’ to restrict the freedom of journalists as much as possible. ‘Anything goes for the KDP and the PUK as far as muzzling the press is concerned,’ the press freedom organisation said.

So now, after a 5-month investigation, the special committee released a meager 430-word (words!) report claiming that terrorists are to blame. See English version of report here.

After the special committee, headed up by the KRG’s Interior Minister, Karim Sinjari, ‘collected and analyzed different information from various sources’, they ‘learned’ that Hisham Mahmood Ismail, a 28-year-old Kurdish mechanic from Mosul, was involved in the abduction of Sardasht Osman. Ismail is allegedly a member of Ansar al-Islam, a radical Islamist group. So under the supervision of the committee and supposedly through the authority of the court, the Asayish in coordination with the local police near Mosul, arrested Ismail and turned him over to the investigation committee. The 430-word report says that ‘after interrogating the arrested suspect, he confessed that he was involved in the crime.’

Karim Sinjari, head of the special committee that investigated Osman's murder

‘After interrogating the arrested suspect…he confessed.’ Possible translation: the alleged suspect was beaten and tortured and eventually forced to sign a confession. Arrest warrants have apparently been issued for other suspects, who will surely ‘confess’ as Ismail did.

Ansar al-Islam, formerly based mainly in the mountains around Halabja, has been fighting against the Kurdish authorities in the Kurdistan region, and against the Iraqi government and US forces outside the Kurdistan region since its formation in 2001. It has carried out numerous armed and suicide attacks, including kidnapping, torture and killing of civilians, as well as killing members of security forces after capture.

Until early 2008 the KRG held hundreds of detainees without charge or trial on suspicion of belonging to or sympathising with Islamist groups, in particular Ansar al-Islam. By September 2008 the majority of these had been ‘pardoned’ and released. However, scores have remained in detention in prisons controlled by the Asayish, the KRG’s main security agency.

On 25 May, The International Press Institute published an open letter signed by eighteen foreign correspondents, who called on Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani to launch an independent investigation into the murder of Sardasht Osman. The corresponsdents, who have long covered the region, include Chris Kutschera, Quil Lawrence and Martin Woollacott. The 18 also called for a public commitment from the KRG to Articles V and VI of the Kurdish Press Law of 2008 calling for severe punishment of anyone, including the security forces, who attacks members of the press.

The correspondents received a response from Karim Zibari on behalf of the office of President Barzani. ‘We are confident that no shred of evidence will be overlooked and take very seriously the importance of sending a clear message that the intimidation of any citizen of the Kurdistan Region will not be tolerated.’ Zibari also wrote that it was ‘extremely unfortunate that the tragic death of this young Kurdish student has been exploited for the personal political gain of a few.’

The correspondents wrote back on 31 May that they ‘anxiously await the findings of an independent investigation designed to uncover the culprits and prevent further intimidation of journalists in Iraqi Kurdistan.’

Protest in June. Demonstrator holds up photo of Sardasht Osman.

Well, the ‘findings’ have been announced but do little to ‘uncover the culprits’. The special committee, lacking any shred of independence, claims that Ansar al-Islam is back, operating in the middle of Hewlêr. It defies logic and reeks of a cover-up. Ansar al-Islam is a convenient scapegoat.

The murder of Sardasht Osman is only the latest in a string of violent, often deadly attacks against Kurdish journalists. Last year, Kurdish journalist for Lvin Magazine Soran Mama Hama was murdered in front of his house in Kirkuk after he had written articles that offended government officials. On 20 April 2010, regional security forces attacked at least 16 Kurdish journalists reporting on student demonstrations in Suleimania. Some were beaten severely by police, and others had their cameras taken and their photographs destroyed. On 28 April, police interrogated the editor of the journal Hawlati, Kamal Rauf, for five hours after he published information on the absence of public services in a Kurdish village. Another editor, Fuad Sadiq, lost his job for criticising Prime Minister Barham Salih. Hakim Qubadi Jali Zada, a Kurdish jurist and poet, was dismissed as a judge in Suleimania for writing an article in the newspaper Hawal that disparaged aspects of the judicial system.

Sadly, Sardasht Osman will probably not be the last victim of the government’s suppression of the freedom of the press. He knew he was in imminent danger for his writings, as do many journalists. But he courageously persevered, fully expecting his tragic end.

In a piece entitled ‘I heard the first ring of my death’ Sardasht Osman wrote the following (excerpt):

In the last few days I was told for the first time that there isn’t much left of your life. To put it in their own words I have no permission to breathe in this city but I fear neither death nor torture. I am waiting for … my killers. I pray that they grant me a tragic death, which deserves my tragic life…. I want them to understand that what scares us is not death but the continuation of such days for our next generation…. The tragedy is the authorities don’t care about the death of the generations…. Whatever happens I will not leave this city, and I will wait for my own death. I know this is the first bell ring for my death but at the end it will become a ring bell for the youth in my society.

Read the complete version of I heard the first ring of my death.

Sources:

Reporter abducted, slain in northern Iraq. Committee to Protect Journalists, 06 May 2010.

Investigation of Kurdish journalist’s murder lacks credibility. Committee to Protect Journalists, 15 September 2010.

Veteran journalists seek justice in Iraqi Kurdistan. Committee to Protect Journalists, 17 May 2010.

Iraqi Kurdistan: Parties in ruling coalition agree to gag the press. KurdMedia, 6 May 2010

Cockburn, Patrick Cockburn and Terri Judd. Iraq: the most dangerous place on earth for journalists. The Independent, 14 June 2010.

I am in love with Massoud Barzani’s daughter, a poem that kills. KurdMedia, 10 May 2010.

Kurdistan President’s Office Responds to Press Freedom Criticism by Famed Correspondents. International Press Institute, 08 June 2010.

Abdul-Rahman, Frman and Sirwan Gharib. Campaigning for Media Rights in Iraqi Kurdistan. Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 23 June 2010.

Amnesty International Report: New order, same abuses. Kurdistan Commentary, 16 September 2010.

Sardasht Osman debate on Al Jazeera’s Inside Iraq

Al Jazeera English. Inside Iraq’s latest program was a debate on the killing of the Kurdish student journalist, Sardasht Osman.

Debate participants:

Hiwa Osman, the Iraq country director for Institute War and Peace Reporting, son of Kurdish politician Mahmoud Osman and former media advisor to Iraqi president Jalal Talabani.

Houzan Mahmoud, a London-based activist with the Organisations of Women’s Freedom in Iraq.