Media freedom in Kurdistan

I grew up in a time and place when freedom of expression was a given — which is why witnessing the increasing threat to media freedom in Europe and around the world has been so difficult to grasp. For the last several months, I’ve had the privilege of working on the DW Freedom project, a desk at Germany’s international broadcaster dedicated to highlighting press rights violations and the cases of journalists who have been arrested, imprisoned, or murdered for their investigative work. It’s been an honor to speak with journalists who’ve risked their lives for their work and to see how they’ve carried on in their work despite the dangers their critical reporting. From one of those recent interviews, with Kurdish journalist, Kamal Chomani, I learned more about the role that the English-language media plays and how easily story perspectives can be shifted by parachute journalists:

There are so many people who write in Kurdish. But when you write in English — because there are very very few writing in English — and you write critically, it puts your life at greater risk. They have completely controlled the English media. They have spent a lot on advertising, given a lot of cash to foreign journalists or academics who write about them very well. Especially after 2003, there was this advertising propaganda that said there is this other Iraq where democracy is booming.