Conference discusses cooperation among Kurdish journalists
Kurdish journalists in Turkey face a completely different situation than Kurdish journalists living in Iraq's Kurdistan Region. Kurdish journalists in Turkey struggle with the state and face lawsuits from the Turkish state and army. They are frequently arrested and several have been killed. Many Kurdish media outlets in Turkey have been shut down repeatedly by Turkish authorities.
According to Mehmet Yildrin, a journalist working for the Kurdish daily newspaper Azadiye Welat (Freedom of Nation), published in Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish city in Turkey, said, "Right now, 70 journalists from Azadiye Welat are in Turkish prisons."
Journalists in Iraqi Kurdistan have two major problems. First, some journalists lack professionalism. Secondly, journalists want more freedom of reporting and more rights in getting information in the Region.
"As a journalist, I don't need to be nationalist or a politician, I should just be a professional in my field," said Kamaran Najim, a photojournalist in Kurdistan Region. Najim said this in reaction to a Kurdish journalist from Turkey who said Kurdish journalists must be nationalists.
Many of the Kurdish journalists from Turkey did not agree with Najim, saying, for them, it is all about survival. They believe they need to be 100 percent pro-Kurdish in their articles.
The two-day conference, held in Duhok, in Kurdistan Region, was titled: "A Meeting Between the Journalists of South (Iraqi Kurdistan) and North (Turkish Kurdistan)." The conference was organized and sponsored by the Kurdistan Region Ministry of Culture and Youth. Around 150 journalists attended the conference, 50 of whom came from Turkey. "Simply put, the aim of the conference is to shape a strong relationship between Kurdish journalists in Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkish Kurdistan," said Halgurd Jundyani, the general director of media at the Ministry of Culture and Youth.
Journalists at the conference agreed there is little coverage about Kurds in Turkey in Iraqi Kurdistan's media and Kurdish media in Turkey gives little space to news about Iraqi Kurds. They agreed to increase this coverage.
"Every time Israel attacks the Gaza Strip, Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera TV channels only talk about Gaza and give live coverage of the incident day and night," said Ahmed Zawiti, Al-Jazeera representative in Iraqi Kurdistan. "Unfortunately, when the deadly earthquake recently shook Van [a Kurdish city in Turkey], the incident did not dominate the media in the [Iraqi] Kurdistan Region. Not one single TV station in Kurdistan Region reported live on the earthquake."
After the conference, the Kurdish journalists from Turkey went on a tour of Kurdistan Region. They visited Suleimaniya city, then Halabja, the city which was attacked with chemical weapons. They then visited Erbil, the Region's capital city, where they met Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Barham Salih. During the meeting, Salih asked the journalists to establish a joint committee or center with the Kurdistan Region journalists with the aim of organizing the abilities of Kurdish journalists and building strong bonds.
The prime minister urged the journalists to promote peace and show the countries in the region that by giving Kurds their rights, it will make the region more stable and peaceful. "The Kurdish problem cannot be solved through military means, it can only be solved through dialogue," said Salih.
Salih told the Kurdish journalists from Turkey that the Kurdistan Ministry of Culture and Youth will help them when it comes to publishing and establishing the joint committee.