Press Freedom Project rejects KRG Interior Minister’s claims on free press and political prisoners in Kurdistan Region

SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region — The US-based Press Freedom Project (PFP) has strongly rejected the recent claims made by the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Interior Minister Rebar Ahmed concerning the situation of free press and political prisoners in the Region.

In a recent conversation with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Ahmed asserted that there were no journalists currently held in Kurdistan Region prisons. He further denied the existence of any political prisoners within the Region.

However, the PFP has released a statement addressing what they described as “misleading and inaccurate statements” made by Ahmed, emphasizing that these claims do not align with the reality on the ground.

“We strongly reject these claims, as do the international community and advocates for press freedom. Furthermore, independent journalists have also voiced their rejection of Mr. Ahmed’s baseless assertions,” the PFP statement read.

The PFP highlighted the cases of imprisoned journalists Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Zebari, and others, accusing Ahmed of denying their status as journalists. The organization pointed out that these individuals are currently serving a three-year sentence in prisons.

“It would have been more appropriate for Mr. Ahmed to acknowledge the truth and provide a thoughtful explanation,” the PFP statement added.

Furthermore, the PFP calls upon Ahmed and the KRG to honor their commitment to upholding press freedom. They also demand the immediate release of “unjustly imprisoned journalists” and the establishment of an environment that enables the media to operate without interruption or fear.

Expressing solidarity with journalists worldwide, particularly those in Kurdistan and Iraq, the PFP vowed to persist in defending their rights and safeguarding the principles of a free press.

The conflicting narratives between the KRG Interior Minister and the PFP highlight the ongoing tensions surrounding press freedom in the Kurdistan Region. As various organizations continue to advocate for transparency and the protection of journalists’ rights, it remains to be seen how the situation will develop and whether the KRG will address the concerns raised by the international community.

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