The Press and Political Processes in Contemporary Iraqi Kurdistan‎

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The Press and Political Processes in Contemporary Iraqi Kurdistan

Interim Report on Views Expressed on the Press and its Environment (2009-2011)

John Hogan and John Trumpbour

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The use of language has become increasingly emotional. Emotions are raw and passionate, but not compassionate. The language that is used is too often violent, with no sign of a wish to engage in dialogue, to make things better. To be opponents does not necessitate being enemies. Kurdistan needs dialogue. The war of words does not help to promote the rule of law or respect for the institutions of governance which are still in their infancy. The use of street language inflames tensions and often deflects attention from addressing pressing challenges for society.

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There are some people who think it is profitable to feed pictures and stories to give the impression that Kurdistan is a repressive, brutal place. International NGOs are courted and fed. Little attention is given to the fact that Kurdistan Region remains part of Iraq, is enclosed on all sides by hostile states, yet displays far greater levels of press freedom, significantly lower levels of violence and is relatively speaking a space of peaceful coexistence for different religious and ethnic communities. These are great achievements. Yet, Iraqi Kurdistan region seems to be targeted for special negative attention. Why?

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There is no denying that the press environment in Iraqi Kurdistan is currently very unhealthy. The violence has to stop. Physical violence, violent language and the violence that flows from the failure to follow ethical and professional guidelines must stop. Violence and intimidation are counter-productive. In the age of the internet and mobile telephony, it is practically impossible to prevent completely the expression and rapid dissemination of opposing views. Violence increases political tension and adds to perceptions of injustice. Injustice itself is corrosive of Kurdish unity. Kurdistan needs unity now more than ever. Military interventions, Turkey's long-standing and audacious claims on Mosul and Kirkuk, the very uncertain future for the Kurds of Syria, along with a whole host of problems in relation to Baghdad and the questions posed by US withdrawal from Iraq, place Kurdistan Region under immense pressure. In Iraqi Kurdistan rapid economic growth, population growth and movement, the increased exposure to outside cultural experiences, along with changes in faith practices, are some of the internal dynamics which pose significant challenges to traditional norms and practices, in particular in the field of gender relations. There is a need for a debate within society as to how best to manage these stormy waters and to build upon the historic opportunity presented to all Kurds by the establishment of the regional government. This requires well thought out, honest and calm reflection. Everyone needs to take responsibility.           Read more

 

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