Wedad Hussein Ali, 28, died a few hours after being kidnapped by gunmen in Dohuk. According to local media reports, his body bore the marks of torture. He worked for RojNews, a news agency that supports the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The Dohuk police say they are investigating the murder but his family fears that it will go unpunished.
The family cites witness accounts as grounds for believing that he was still alive when his abductors dumped him at the roadside between Dohuk and the village of Semel. The family also questions the police decision to take him to Semel hospital, which was further away than Dohuk hospital, where he would have received better treatment.
“(…) we are calling on all international human rights organizations and those who defend freedom of speech, European and American consulates in Erbil to investigate and to put pressure on Kurdistan Regional Government so that an international independent committee may investigate the abduction of Wedad,” the letter says.
The family says it does not trust the local authorities to solve his abduction and murder. It also reports that it is being watched and harassed by Kurdistan Regional Government officials.
Three other journalists have been murdered with impunity in Iraqi Kurdistan since 2008:
– Kawa Germyani, the editor of the magazine Rayal and a correspondent for the newspaper Awene, was shot by gunmen in Kalar (140 km south of Sulaymaniyah), on 5 December 2013.
– Sardasht Osman, a student who reported for various media outlets, was abducted on 4 May 2010 in Erbil and was found dead two days later in Mosul.
– Soran Hama Mama, who worked for the independent publication Lvin Magazine, was gunned down outside his home in Rasheed Awa, a northern suburb of Kirkuk, on the evening of 21 July 2008. He was just 23.
Most murders of journalists go unpunished in Iraq, which is ranked 158th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index and is especially dangerous for journalists visiting areas where fighting is taking place.
Click here to read the family letter