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Iraq: Kurdistan security forces storm opposition TV channel, suspend broadcast

December 8, 2020 at 10:52 am

A member of the Iraqi Kurdish Asayish security force in Iraq on 14 on March 2020 [SHWAN MOHAMMED/AFP/Getty Images]

Iraqi Kurdish Asayish security forces yesterday stormed the headquarters of Nalia Radio and Television (NRT) and suspended it for covering anti-government protests in the autonomous region, Anadolu news agency reported.

NRT said in a statement on its website that “the Asayish [regional security forces] have stormed the channel’s headquarters in the city of Sulaymaniyah, cut off broadcasting, confiscated equipment and closed the building’s doors.”

According to the statement, the suspension came after the channel’s extensive coverage of the recent protests in the region.

The channel published two photos showing a number of security cars parked in front of its headquarters in the city.

The Ministry of Culture and Youth in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said in a statement that it had decided to suspend the channel’s broadcasts for one week because of its “lack of adherence to the rules regulating broadcast media and especially its current irresponsible behaviour, describing the security forces as militias and bandits.”

READ: Protestors set fire to Kurdish government headquarters over delay in salary payment

The ministry pointed out that the channel’s management had been alerted several times, but its violations continued.

NRT is owned by Shaswar Abdul Wahid, the leader of the opposition New Generation Movement.

The suspension comes a day after hundreds of protesters set fire to the headquarters of the two ruling parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, in Sulaymaniyah to protest against the deteriorating economic conditions and delayed payment of salaries.

The KRG accuses the channel of inciting people to protest against the local authorities.

This is not the first time security forces have raided NRT’s offices, on 12 August, staffers were held inside for several hours while the offices were searched.