By Sarkawt Shamsulddin
Sulaymaniyah- On 5 December, journalists, civil society activists, and families and friends of Kawa Garmiani gather to commemorate Kawa’s works and legacy. Kawa was assassinated at evening on 5 December 2013 in Kalar, Sulaymaniyah. He was grown by his mother as he lost his father during the Anfal campaign in 1988.
Kawa was born in 1981. He was married but did not have a chance to see his first child. His wife gave birth to Kawa’s daughter Amed few months after Kawa’s death.
Kawa was working for Awene newspaper, an independent outlet based in Sulaymaniyah. Kawa was also editor in chief for Rayala gazette. He was a champion in following up on corruption cases in Garmian. He was threatened by one of the political figures in Garmian, Mahmood Sangawi, a member of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) political bureau. Before his death, he received many death threats for his reports.
Kawa’s name comes in an extensive list of journalist champions who fought fearlessly but later were assassinated under Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) rule.
Soran Mama Hama was killed in July 2008 in Kirkuk; the killer(s) not found. In 2010, Sardasht Osman was kidnapped in Erbil and two days later found dead; perpetrators not held accountable. Wedat Hussain was killed in August 2016 in Duhok. So far, no one convicted of this crime. Previously, Dr. Abdulsattar Tahir Shareef was assassinated in 2008 in Kirkuk after he gave the interview to Lvin Gazette about KDP leader Mustafa Barzani and other KDP leaders. Killing independent Kurdish writers and critical voices during the 1990s and before at the time of revolution at the hand of Kurds themselves is very common. Bakr Ali, a prominent voice who defended voiceless people, was assassinated and Jamil Rozhbayani, a prominent Kurdish writer, was killed by Kurds, too.
The Asayish [Kurdish security forces affiliated with Kurdish political parties] are known for being “successful” in the running after terrorist organizations. They have failed dozens of terrorist attacks and arrested suspects of all terrorist activities in Kurdistan in a matter of hours.
However, nobody held accountable for killing these journalists and writers. Ironically, Asayish is accused of killing some of these people mentioned above. Many of these journalists were either arrested by Asayish or warned over their works before they were killed. All of them received death threats multiple times. Kawa Garmiani went on strike in front of Garmian courthouse for not taking actions against those who threatened him.
It became apparent to the people that no one benefit from silencing this critical voice than the Kurdish authority. Even if these people died by accident, people are not going to trust the KRG.
The struggle of independent journalists and the critical voices is not over but becoming even harder. However, the resistance among journalists is growing. Commemorating Kawa and others is a confirmation that critical voices cannot be silenced by gun. We may don’t know who exactly killed Kawa, but it is crystal clear why Kurdish authority failed to hold perpetrators accountable.