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'Protesters' storm NRT’s Duhok office demanding support for referendum

By Rudaw 31/8/2017
A young man who stormed the NRT office in Duhok waves a flag of Kurdistan next to the NRT logo on August 31, 2017. Photo: social media
A young man who stormed the NRT office in Duhok waves a flag of Kurdistan next to the NRT logo on August 31, 2017. Photo: social media
DUHOK, Kurdistan Region – A number of people stormed the Duhok office of NRT Thursday evening, vandalizing property and demanding the channel support a yes-vote in the upcoming independence referendum.
Shaswar Abdulwahid Qadir, NRT owner, is currently heading a “No for Now” campaign against the vote.
The channel broadcast the incident at its Duhok office live, showing a group of young people, some with the Kurdistan flag, tearing down a billboard bearing the NRT logo.
The channel interviewed one of the young men who said he wants NRT and its owner to support the vote.
“We want NRT channel to say yes like every other channel,” the young man said angrily, chanting yes for the referendum.
The media advocacy group Metro Center condemned the incident as “a dangerous step to encourage violence against the ‘No’ camp and is a blatant violation of the freedom of expression.”
NRT claimed that the group of 10 young men used a car belonging to the Ministry of Peshmerga and that some of them were armed.
Halgurd Hikmat, spokesperson for the Peshmerga ministry, denied NRT’s claim. He called on the channel to file a formal complaint if they had evidence.
At least two of the young men could be seen tearing down an NRT sign inside the channel’s office unchallenged, although members of the security forces were present.
Riot police and members of security forces forced the young men out and the office is now said to be functioning again.
A Duhok police spokesperson told Rudaw that no one was arrested as there were no violations committed in what he described as a “protest.” He said a number of young people “peacefully” entered the NRT office calling for the channel to stop advertising the no-vote campaign. No material damage or injuries resulted from the incident, the police spokesperson added.
The channel has been airing ads for both the ‘no’ and ‘yes’ campaigns.  
NRT was not immediately available to comment on the incident.
The channel said its terrestrial broadcasts have been stopped since Monday by Kurdish authorities on grounds of distributing materials in support of the ‘no’ campaign.
President Masoud Barzani, who is head of the High Referendum Council that called for the September 25 vote, said earlier this month that he believes no-voters should not be shunned. 
“I am not with labeling people as traitor,” Barzani said in a meeting with the Civil Society Organization.
NRT owner Qadir and a number of Kurdish activists and politicians from various parties launched a “No for Now” campaign in August that calls for people to vote ‘no’ in the referendum because the timing and conditions are not right.


Muraz Adzhoev | 1/9/2017
Urgent investigations must be held to find out as soon as possible who and for what particular reasons organized this very suspicious "incident". Is not it very strange that "the channel broadcasted the incident" and even "interviewed one of the 10 armed young men" who "used a car belonging to the Ministry of Peshmerga"??? Most likely it seems to be an "incident" purposefully organized by those who benefits from this provocation, by those who are really against reintegrated and independent Kurdistan.
Stewee Guy
Stewee Guy | 1/9/2017
it seems to me no law and government in Duhok, where clan and families attack and kill eachother and mob attack other partis offices just because they don't agree with them.
Argushi, USA | 1/9/2017
I don't like to see violence. but how can any kurd say NO to the referendum. What would these people say to the families who sacrifice their life for theses people. shame on them if our brave Peshmerga have not protected Kurdistan for many decades. these people would not even own a bicycle. now they own TV stations. Shame Shame. shame on any Kurd who says NO. LONG LIVE KURDISTAN...LONG LIVE SAROK BARZANI AND LONG LIVE PESHMERGA
Gold Roger | 1/9/2017
Kurds should protect this channel from people who wants to hurt them, by doing this shows you are not facist and not afraid of people that does not agree with you. Burning down this media outlet for saying NO to kurdish independence means tomorrow someone els can raid your home and threaten your family for simply saying a few word about the government. Don't make the same mistake other facist nations have done before. Specially protect those that says NO, the last thing you want is by giving them more support if you silence them. Assyrians, Turkmen and Arabs will vote NO, if you show them kindness dispite them not supporting your state, shows you are much better than them. Its not too late, you can still prevent other attacks until the vote day.
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