Deaths Of Journalists Undermine History Of Free Speech

But the Green Zone is in danger of turning red with the blood of journalists, activists and even politicians who do not toe the official line.

The number and horrific nature of recent attacks on dissenting voices, which activists and journalists say are linked to PUK affiliates and forces, confirm a worrying pattern.  The attack on Mulla Saman was not the only incident. Successive events show that the incident is only part of systematic violations.

On August 8, the “No for Now” for the Referendum Movement was announced in Sulaymaniyah, demanding a postponement of the referendum scheduled for September 25.

After the announcement of the movement, pressure was exerted on its members.  On August 20, Farhad Sinkawi a Kurdistan parliament member and a member of the No for Now for the Referendum Movement in Sulaymaniyah was kidnapped by unknown gunmen.

Fingers have been pointed at PUK officials. Security apparatuses declined to comment and remained silent.

Skeletons in the past

Over the past two years, many activists, journalists and critics of the ruling party have said that they have received threats of death and physical liquidation in areas under the control of the PUK.

While the number of cases alone this year shows a worrying pattern, the repression has historical roots.

Months after ending a 60-day protest by residents in Sulaymaniyah in April 2011, which led to the killing of 10 people and the injury of hundreds, in August of the same year gunmen attacked Asos Hardi, editor-in-chief and founder of the Awene newspaper in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Again, suspicions fell on PUK officials, as reported in the newspaper which he used to manage. No court has found anyone guilty.

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