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Iraq: Kurdistan authorities must investigate new journalist killing

The Kurdistan Regional Government must take immediate steps to investigate the abduction and murder earlier this week of Sardasht Osman, 23, a university student who worked as a journalist for the Ashtiname newspaper in Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq. His abduction and murder follows a spate of other attacks on journalists and other critics of the KRG’s two main political parties in recent years for which no-one has been brought to justice.

Sardasht Osman, a final-year student at Erbil’s University of Salaheddin, was abducted outside the university on 4 May by a group of unidentified armed men. They forced him into a car and drove away. He was not seen alive again. His body was found in Mosul yesterday morning. He had been murdered.

Prior to his death, Mr Osman wrote articles for Ashtiname newspaper in Erbil, and other publications. According to Kurdish media websites, he had recently published an article in Ashtiname critical of a senior Kurdish political figure following which, according to his brother, Bashdar, he received anonymous threats to his mobile phone.

It appears that his abduction and murder may be the latest in a series of attacks carried out against independent journalists and other critics of the KRG authorities in recent years. There is an emerging pattern of attacks on those who have criticised leading members and officials of the two main political parties in the Kurdistan Region - the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), headed by Mas’oud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), headed by Jalal Talabani - which jointly form the KRG. The attacks, mostly physical assaults but including some killings, have generally been carried out by unidentified men in plain clothes who are widely suspected of being agents of or connected to the Parastin and Zanyari, the party security and intelligence organs of, respectively, the KDP and the PUK.  
Amnesty is calling on the KRG authorities to institute immediately a thorough, independent investigation into the abduction and murder of Sardasht Osman and other attacks on journalists and others in the Kurdistan Region and areas under the effective control of  the KRG, and for those responsible to be brought to justice in full conformity with international law

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