Apparently acting on orders from one of Iraq’s major Kurdish political parties, security forces in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region confiscated and destroyed copies of a weekly magazine from bookshops in Zakho in Dahuk Province, according to a statement released in Arabic by an Iraqi media rights watchdog.
Miran Husayn, who works in the editorial staff of the Kurdish-language Lifin magazine told the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO) that forces loyal to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan of Iraqi President Jalal al-Talibani stormed a bookstore in Zakho that specializes in magazines and newspapers last Tuesday afternoon, June 23. The forces reportedly assaulted the shop owner of the store and detained his brother for 24 hours, JFO writes in its statement.
Husayn added that security forces “confiscated all copies of issue 94 of Lifin magazine,” and indicating that some of these copies were burned.
With circulation of about 25,000 copies per issue, Lifin is published weekly in the city of Sulaymaniya and distributed in the Iraqi Kurdistan region. The Kurdish-language weekly has faced press violations before: Its editor-in-chief was arrested by Kurdish security forces in early 2007, after the magazine published details of Iraqi President Jalal al-Talibani’s health situation. In addition, unknown gunmen shot dead one of the magazine’s correspondents in the Iraqi province of Kirkuk last year during a series of reports that exposed corruption in Kirkuk politics.
Husayn, the Lifin editorial staffer, told the JFO that the magazine had published articles in earlier issues containing criticisms of the Kurdistan regional political leadership, and had been subjected to several legal actions and threats, as were bookshops that sold the Lifin magazine.
Husayn, added that the operations coincided with an interview that the president of the region, Masoud al-Barzani, held with journalists, in which he promised to support media freedom in the Kurdish region.
JFO ends its statement with a call for Kurdistan regional authorities to respect freedom of the press in northern Iraq.