Another journalist murdered in Southern Kurdistan
Kawa Garmyani, a 32 year-old journalist in Southern Kurdistan’s Kelar town was fatally shot in his own home. Recently, he wrote several critical articles about Kurdish politicians and uncovered incidents of corruption. On the 5th of December, unknown men knocked on his one-bedroom “house” that he shared with his mother, and asked for Kawa. As soon as Kawa came towards the front door, he was shot and died almost immediately in front of his mother.
He lived in a small room with his pregnant wife, who is expected to give birth in the next fifteen days to a baby boy. Kawa’s brother has said his nephew will be called Qelem which means pen in Kurdish because his brother was “Şehîdî Qelem” meaning a pen martyr.
On the 7th of December hundreds of journalists, activists and supporters of Kawa Garmiyani protested across Southern Kurdistan. Protesters chanted slogans such as “We won’t be silent” and “The murderers of Kawa Garmiyani must be revealed”.
His wife is a survivor of the Anfal campaign, and her entire family were killed by Saddam Hussein’s ethnic cleansing campaign against the Kurdish people in Southern Kurdistan. She survived the campaign aged only seven. In a brief interview she said, “Kawa was raised by a single mother, and now I’m eight months pregnant and my child will never meet his Dad!”. In a video which has been uploaded on YouTube she lamented about the loss of her husband, calling for justice and accountability.
Kawa Garmyani’s brother has since issued a statement saying that his family will not accept financial assistance to keep silent over the murder of his brother, and vowed to seek justice. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called for Kurdistan Regional Government to investigate the murder of Kawa Garmiyani, and concern over freedom of press was echoed by Reporters Without Borders.
Since the killing of Kawa Garmiyani Kurdistan Regional Government’s presidency has condemned the murder, and issued an investigation into his killing but whether the perpetuators of the killing will come to light remains to be seen.
It is important for press freedom to be enshrined in Southern Kurdistan, the criticism of politicians must not be met with intimidation, arrests, or death. It is unimaginable that Southern Kurdistan can progress without the guarantee of press freedom, and a legal framework which protects journalists.