ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – An international media watchdog has called on Kurdish authorities to reopen an investigation into the murder of a journalist five years ago.
Kawa Garmyani was shot dead in front of his home in Kalar, Sulaimani province on December 5, 2013. He was founder and editor of the magazine Rayal
and contributed to the newspaper Awene
. Before his murder, he had been investigating corruption in the Kurdistan Region and had posted on Facebook about a plan to publish a new report on the issue. He had reportedly received threats from members of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
At the time, both the PUK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) condemned the murder.
The perpetrators of the crime have not been apprehended. A man confessed to the murder and was sentenced to life in prison, but he later retracted his confession. Investigations into two PUK officials who had issued threats were closed.
Mahmoud Sangawi, a military commander in the PUK, was accused of issuing threats against Garmyani and ordering his assassination, but was cleared by a court. Garmyani’s brother Karwan Ahmed told Rudaw at the time that the trial was a “show.”
His family “is of the view that the instigators are still unpunished,” said Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in a statement on Wednesday.
“We call for the investigation to be reopened in order to shed all possible light on this murder and identify the instigators,” said the head of RSF’s Middle East office Sophie Anmuth.
Garmyani’s murder is not an “isolated one” in the Kurdistan Region, but is one of seven similar cases in the past ten years linked to the ruling parties – the PUK and the KDP – or to Iraqi officials, RSF said.
“We urge both the Kurdish local authorities and Iraqi national authorities not to allow impunity to take hold in the region, as this protects those groups who knowingly target journalists,” said Anmuth.
In terms of press freedom, RSF ranks Iraq 160th out of 180 countries.