An international journalism watchdog organization has called on authorities in the ethnically Kurdish area of northern Syria to cancel its ban on the Rudaw Media Network.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - An international journalism watchdog organization has called on authorities in the ethnically Kurdish area of northern Syria to cancel its ban on the Rudaw Media Network.
The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released a statement on Friday asking the temporary administration, led by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), to revoke its decision to suspend Rudaw's operation in the area of Cezire Canton, one of the three provinces of the area known to Kurds as Rojava.
Erbil-based Rudaw and Syrian opposition station Orient were banned by the canton's authorities on Monday and accused of spreading false news and disunity, according to news reports and CPJ.
The PYD-led authorities charged that the outlets with publishing "lies and systematic deception" that incited violence, sparked internal discord, and spread racist ideology. Rudaw has since strongly denied the charges and condemned the attack on the free press.
CPJ said the PYD did not respond to a request for an explanation of the ban. As CPJ reported cited news reports in its statement: "The PYD has close ties to the Kurdish Workers' Party, or PKK, which is outlawed in Turkey. In late July, Turkish authorities blocked domestic access to Rudaw, accusing the website of "promoting terrorist propaganda."
The CPJ statement included comments from Rudaw's Washington bureau chief, Namo Abdulla, who told the watchdog the ban was probably due to the network's balanced reporting rather than promoting the "official PYD narrative."
Abdulla told CPJ the move "would prevent Rudaw journalists from reporting in the territory and would force the outlet to rely on secondhand sources and social media."
Abdulla, who also authored CPJ's 2014 report on press freedom in Iraqi Kurdistan, pointed out in the statement that at the same time that Rudaw was accused of being pro-PKK in Turkey, it was accused of being anti-PKK in Syria.
"The political and military situation in Syria and Iraq may be confusing, but one thing should be crystal clear for any party seeking international recognition and support: Journalists must be allowed to work freely," CPJ's Mansour said in the statement.
"The local authorities in Kurdish-held territory of Syria should immediately retract their decision and allow Rudaw and Orient TV to operate in the areas they control."