The Rights Center for Freedom of Expression Support recorded, during the year 2020, It is the seventeenth year of the start of the new democratic system in Iraq, in which there was a decline in freedom of expression, but it is much less than the last quarter of 2019, which witnessed public protests in the country, as repression continues to grow during each protest or highlight every file that has been hidden or blackout by government authorities, and the overall losses in these matters are still quite small compared to democratic countries, The authorities do not seem to want to grant freedom of expression much space, Which is the face of democratic practices, violations have reached significant numbers, despite the country's closure due to the spread of Coronavirus since the beginning of this year.
The statistics included the killing of 17 protesters and journalists, including the director of a satellite channel, and hundreds of wounded, most of them from the Kurdistan region, about 226 detainees were released, most of them, about 37 detainees were released from custody without going through the judiciary, and about 15 disappeared or were kidnapped, and a number of them were released, while others are still unaccounted for. Based on more than 126 monitoring interviews conducted by the Rights Center for Freedom of Expression Support team, with protesters subjected to violations and journalists who were intimidated and assaulted from Jan/ 2 until Dec/ 20 of 2020, it was noted that all the authorities, including the security forces, do not care at all about freedom of expression, and do not provide a safe environment for journalists under the conditions of the demonstrations, this means that it needs to review this matter to maintain the democratic system.
as every time, the Iraqi government did not allow the Rights Center team for Freedom of Expression Support to obtain official statistics or respond to inquiries about the causes of violations in contravention of the constitution and applicable laws.
Regarding the authorities' approach to the media, freedom of expression has come under constant attack, through attacks on the press and bloggers, press freedom practices decreased significantly and violations became unlimited, the (Rights Center) documented 60 transgressions, including 20 cases of beatings, and the prevention and obstruction of media crews in its coverage of the protests taking place in most of the country's provinces, In addition to the closure of 4 media stations and more than 30 local radio stations, claiming that the fees for the frequency spectrum were not paid and Interference with other TV broadcasts.
In addition to recording dozens of cases of death threats and the detention of prominent journalists and activists while covering the demonstrations during the mentioned period.
The Rights Center for Freedom of Expression Support monitored a significant decline in the personal expression of journalists and citizens, the security authorities cracked down on critical debate among citizens, especially through social media, this is a dangerous precedent and a new founding of repression and dictatorship, As the lawsuits prosecute most activists and bloggers on charges relating to incitement to order and disturbing public security, The attack against freedom of expression is being imposed by a new and more effective form of digital authoritarianism that poses a major threat to democracy in Iraq.
The year 2020 witnessed many violations. In January, the crew of the Dijla channel in Basra Governorate, Ahmed Abdul Samad and his photographer, Safaa Ghali, was killed, and the authorities have not yet been able to find the killer, ten days later, the photojournalist Yusef Sattar was killed in Baghdad, and the police still did not find the perpetrator, even though the year was drawing to a close!
The most prominent of these violations was the repeated arrests of journalists working for the Kurdish NRT channel in the Kurdistan region, the most dangerous of these cases is the arrest of Behrouz Ali on the back of a complaint from the President of the Republic, Barham Salih, over an article on Facebook, and the closure of the Nalia Media Incorporated, which includes NRT channels, in addition to the threat of the Director General of Diyala Health, Alsumaria TV correspondent Hadi Al-Anbaki, via text message, and the practice of harassment by security forces and the protections of government institutions buildings, as well as implicit threats and hints of intimidation against the background of preparing press reports or photographing video material, and the trial of a number of journalists and demonstrators, and the judiciary closed a number of cases and others are still pending trial dates.
A Rights Center for Freedom of Expression Support received several reports from bloggers who were subjected to tribal persecution for their views on social media, but disclosing their names puts their lives at risk.
While the Rights Center for Freedom of Expression Support expresses its fear of increasing the number of violations, it calls on the relevant authorities to direct employees and especially the security forces, the need to cooperate with journalists, bloggers and civil society activists, and respect their work in accordance with the constitution and the law.
The second half of 2020 saw security personnel deal cruelly with journalists, activists and even bloggers, the use of this method is due to the demonstrations by citizens in the Kurdistan region demanding payment of salaries and reform of the political system because the Democracy has lasting appeal as a way to hold leaders accountable and create conditions for a better life, but this is not an excuse to use force and violence against journalists and opinion leaders, and the security leaders should have acted wisely and quietly to achieve the safety of protesters and citizens in these events.
The demonstrations that began on December 3rd witnessed bloody events that amount to massacres, due to the security forces' use of live and lethal ammunition, the first was the first four days of December, and the second was the Nassiriya massacre, in which unknown assailants attacked demonstrators with live bullets, killing and wounding dozens of demonstrators.
A Rights Center for Freedom of Expression Support recommended that the Iraqi government take a number of steps towards holding security personnel accountable, and officers were exempted from their duties due to human rights violations, but the government's actions were not at the required level.
The Rights Center for Freedom of Expression Support believes that the pressures experienced by democratic institutions in most countries are a normal condition, the continuing movement for justice and inclusion in the building is what citizens can expect and what they should expect from democracy, the developments have contributed to an increase in anger and anxiety in the hearts of citizens about economic inequality, loss of personal status, and the failure of the political center of the spectrum to address the unrest caused by them, this led to a monopoly of job opportunities and government jobs for the parties, who were able to describe the current elites as being complicit in or benefiting from the erosion of the citizens' living standards and their national traditions.
These punitive methods lead to violations of human rights and damage democracy from within, through the position rejecting basic civil and political rightsو and the most worrying thing is that the democratic system is on the verge of collapse if the rampant corruption in state institutions is not seriously confronted, and the political forces that reject basic principles such as the separation of powers, the end of political quotas, and the application of the law to the political mood, not to everyone.
The Rights Center for Freedom of Expression Support calls on the authorities in the country to loosen their grip on freedom of expression, and not to prosecute journalists, activists, and public opinion leaders, and release of those arrested and creating more space for the media.
The Rights Center demands that the politicians respond to the general demands of the demonstrating citizens in different regions of the country, those who have stood up to long days of oppression, and that they are still continuing to strive for freedom, accountability and dignity, because change and reform are achieving their demands.
This mean, the present moment does not only contain danger, it also includes an opportunity for democracy and People involved must make the protection of human dignity fairer, and political leaders make a continuous effort to bring prosperity to the citizens.
The Rights Center for Freedom of Expression Support publishes the events it recorded during the year 2020, with regard to other cases, the details of which he cannot publish based on the desire of the violated persons, as shown below:
An arrest warrant has been issued against the correspondent of I NEWS satellite channel in Karbala province, Haider Hadi, against the background of a press report with the families of the martyrs near the forensic medicine department.
The assassination of the correspondent of the Dijlah satellite channel in Basra, Ahmed Abdel Samad and his photographer, Safaa Ghali, and the attack by the security forces on the media staff who were working to cover the demonstrations in the province, and Shock forces arrested Al-Ghadeer channel correspondent Fouad Al-Halfi, Reuters photographer Muhammad Al-Fartousi, and Al-Sharqiya channel photographer Ahmed Raed, because of their coverage of the protests that erupted at that time, as well as preventing Al-Marbad correspondent Mustafa Al-Shaheen from covering and breaking his press equipment.
The death of the photojournalist, Youssef Sattar, and the wounding of Al-Baghdadia TV cameraman Uday Akab, while covering the demonstrations near Kilani Square in the center of Baghdad.
Payam satellite channel correspondent Hoshyar Muhammad was slapped by the director of Asayish Sulaymaniyah, and the NRT crew was arrested under the pretext of covering a demonstration in Sayed Sadiq district without obtaining a license, and Ibrahim Hama Salih, a reporter for Sabeida TV, threatened to arrest him if he did not withdraw from the coverage.
The Federal Police prevented channels (Ke Lee Kurdistan, NRT, Sbeida, and Kirkuk satellite channel) from covering events in areas subject to Arabization.
The headquarters of the Dijla channel in Baghdad closed after a security force affiliated with the Ministry of the Interior forcibly removed the employees.
The security forces attacked Al- Fallujah satellite channel team near Tahrir Square, in the center Baghdad, and forced the photographer to finish filming by force.
Journalist Mazen Latif was kidnapped from Al-Mutanabi Street in Baghdad.
The commissioner of Al-Rasheed satellite channel, Nizar Dhanun, was killed in the Jamia neighborhood, west of the capital, Baghdad.
Preventing the (inews) satellite channels, al-Rashid, Rudaw, the Kurdish k24 channel, nrt satellite, the Iraqi Turkmen channel, the Kurdish Vyam channel, the Kirkuk satellite channel, the Kurdsat channel, Reuters, and the KirkukNow agency) from covering the protest in the Qaysir market in Kirkuk.
The Al-Wafa Radio and Television office in Al-Kufa district in Najaf governorate targeted a missile that caused severe damage to the office building, "without any significant human casualties."
Journalist Tawfiq Al-Tamimi was kidnapped, and his fate remains unknown until this moment.
Attacking the correspondent of Al-Rasheed Satellite Channel in Karbala Governorate, Tariq Al-Khafaji, from the security forces while preparing a press report on the Crisis Cell's measures to prevent Corona virus near Alwend checkpoint.
Baghdad Al-Youm News Agency correspondent in Basra, Hassan Sabah, was arrested in Al-Zubair for unknown reasons.
The arrest of the Kurdish journalist, Hayman Mamand, for writing a post on the social networking site Facebook regarding delayed payment of employees' salaries, As well as the measures taken regarding social isolation to confront the Corona virus, and after 10 days of arrest, he was released on April 5 on bail, to be arrested after one day due to a TV statement.
The director of the Al-Malwiya Al-Ardiya Channel, Muhammad Qadir Al-Samarrai, was severely assaulted by the security authorities on his return to his home, and they did not leave him until he fainted.
The attack on the Asia satellite channel team, composed of reporter Tariq al-Rabei, photographer Raed Fouad, and assistant Ghazwan Karim, during a live coverage of the Al-Mashtal area, east of the capital, Baghdad, from the Federal Police forces.
The abuse of the correspondent of Alsumaria Satellite Channel in Diyala Governorate, Hadi Al-Anbaki from the Director General of Diyala Health, who sent him a text message on the background of a press report.
The Federal Police arrested the Kurdistan 24 TV team, composed of the reporter Hayman Dallawi and his photographer, Nawzad Muhammad, in the village of Zangari in the Daquq district of Kirkuk, due to covering the fires that affect agricultural crops.
Badil Barwari, one of the organizers of the teachers' and employee demonstrations in Dohuk, was arrested, as well as other demonstrators, the arrest of Sabida satellite crews, who are (Azad Mukhtar and Ali Shelly, the Sabida correspondents in Dohuk, Akram Kuli, a reporter at Sabida in Zakho, Hajir Salman, a cameraman in Sbeida, in Dohuk, Maher Skvan, director of Khabir TV, and Ahmed Sharnkhi, director of Radio Khabir and Karawan Sadiq, the reporter of the Kali Kurdistan satellite channel, and the Badinan Media Foundation press team, Umid Haji, the correspondent of the Press Media website, were arrested.
Storm and sabotage and Close the office of the mbc Iraq channel by citizens protesting against the backdrop of a video report published by the channel about the bombing of the Iraqi embassy in Lebanon.
The correspondent of INEWS satellite channel in Karbala, Haider Hadi, received a notification of a lawsuit filed against him for criticizing the work of the province's municipality department.
Al-Baghdadiya satellite channel raid by a security force detained the live broadcast cars against the background of a previous lawsuit filed against the channel earlier for showing a series about the life of the late writer Ali al-Wardi.
Al-Ahed satellite channel correspondent in Kirkuk, Qais Al-Zubaidi, was detained, and a security force attacked the press cadres who belong to (Al-Sharqiya, All Kurdistan, Rudaw, and Kirkuk Now Agency) and confiscated their equipment while covering a demonstration of farmers in the governorate.
The crew of U TV were prevented from covering the health condition of a girl who was subjected to domestic violence in Karbala by the administration of Al-Hussein Hospital in the governorate.
The security forces dispersed a demonstration in Sulaymaniyah with excessive force and using tear gas and live bullets.
The arrest of the Sbeida satellite team, consisting of (Yadkar Haji and Aaryan Bakr), in the middle of the Sulaymaniyah market.
The security authorities assaulted the NRT satellite team using an electric stick, which led to the injury of the station's correspondent, Beriyar Namiq and his cameraman, Aram Shihab, as well as the confiscation of the media work tools of the satellite team.
The director of Kirkuk Silo, Najaf Moussa, attacked the Rudaw satellite channel team, led by Correspondent Hiwa Husam al-Din, and prevented them from covering a press conference related to agriculture in the province.
Riot police assaulted the Dijlah satellite channel crew while covering the demonstrations in Najaf governorate, and destroyed press equipment.
The arrest of journalist Bakhtiar Saeed from the security authorities in Erbil due to a Facebook post.
Close many of local radio stations in Iraq from the National Communications and Media Commission, under the pretext of non-payment of the amounts of the frequency spectrum owed by these radio stations.
The severe beating of the journalist, Dana Manami, by unknown persons in Sulaymaniyah, resulting in severe injuries to him.
The NRT satellite correspondent was detained for 4 hours in Sulaymaniyah and prevented from covering protests that were taking place there, and the crew of the same channel was arrested in Dohuk and prevented from covering them, In addition to the arrest of Muhammad Amer, the satellite TV correspondent in Erbil, and the confiscation of his journalistic work tools.
An officer in Al- Sokooe checkpoint / operations of Anbar attacked the crew of Asia satellite channel and prevented them from entering the governorate, despite their owning official buggies.
The head of the Meditarata Center for Regional Studies, Behrouz Jaafar, was arrested based on a complaint from the President of Iraq, Barham Salih, and placed him in Azmar Police Station prison in Sulaymaniyah Governorate, due to a Facebook post.
The arrest of the crews of Al-Ittijah, Al-Ahed, Rudaw, and INEWS stations, from the Federal Police forces, for covering a demonstration in front of the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Baghdad.
A judicial arrest warrant was issued against the journalist, Saddad Al-Salhi, without mentioning the complainant.
Arrest warrants were issued against 4 activists from Mosul, one of them was Saqr al Zakaria, against the background of a complaint from the Director General of Nineweh Governorate Health.
The security authorities attacked the colleges of media’s graduates, who were seated in the Alawi area at Gate 9.
An arrest warrant was issued against the photographer Aws Absawi in Najaf because of the criticism to a political official there.
Activist Ammar Khazali was exposed to an explosive dinamit in front of his house in Al-Diwaniyah.
Unidentified assaults severely beat the correspondent of Al-Ahed satellite channel in Babel, Zulfiqar Al-Khafaji, which led to his injury.
The correspondent of Al-Tagheer Satellite Channel in Dhi Qar, Ihab Al-Khafaji, was arrested in the company of Saad Al-Rikabi, a photographer from the intelligence services, without a judicial warrant.
The outcome of the suppression of the demonstrations that erupted in the governorates of the Kurdistan region on (3-12-2020) was the arrest of 119 demonstrators in Sulaymaniyah, among them some of the organizers of the demonstrations, most notably Biman Izz al-Din, Abdullah Mulla Nuri, Sherko Hama Amin, Aziz Raouf, Othman Kolbi.
8 8 demonstrators and security forces were killed by shooting them.
More than 120 wounded in those demonstrations.
Closing down the Nalia Media Foundation, which includes the NRT channel group.
The attack on the Rudaw satellite channel team in Rania district.
Karzan Tariq, a NRT satellite correspondent, was arrested from the security forces.
The arrest of the Payam TV team consisting of the presenter Goran Muhammad, the reporter Hawar Muhammad and the photographer Ako Jumaa
The arrest of the Iraqi satellite TV crew in Sulaymaniyah, consisting of Amin Ahmed and Sirwan Barzan
The arrest of Harim Majeed, Director of Digital Media, and the arrest of Muhammad Mahmoud, correspondent of Radio Dunk
The assassination of the activist Salah al-Iraqi in Baghdad
Agence France Presse photographer Ahmed al-Rubaye was wounded in the leg and shoulder, after riot control forces fired iron balls (Sagam) at the demonstrators in Tahrir Square.
Hassan Sabah was arrested in Basra after his house was stormed and equipment and papers related to his journalistic work were confiscated.
Ahmed Shukry's car, presenter of Al-Iraqiya TV, was burned in front of his house in Tunis neighborhood.
The arrest of the head of the Nalia Media Foundation, which includes the NRT station group, Awat Ali, at Sulaymaniyah airport, after his arrival from Sweden.
Preventing the stations of the Iraqi Media Network from entering the garages of the Ministry of Transportation by an official decision.