we need more effective freedom, constructive power of word
On the 116th anniversary of Kurdish media,
On 22nd April of this year, we celebrated the 116th anniversary of issuing the first Kurdish newspaper in the capital of Egypt, Cairo. In 1967, Maruf Kheznedar published again the first copy of the newspaper. From that day on, journalists of Kurdistan have been celebrating the anniversary of Kurdish media and Miqdad Midhet Bedirxan, who issued the first Kurdish newspaper, in various ways, and propose new methods and ideas to improve the constant process of the Kurdish media.
On this day, journalists do not solely celebrate a classic anniversary, but they intend to deliver messages, define purposes and specify new up-to-date strategies in accordance with the political circumstances in Kurdistan. On this occasion, we should once again insist on preserving the life and career of journalists, because sometimes journalists come under pressure and threat to the degree of killing. The recent one was Kawa Garmiyany who was murdered in an inhumane way outside his own house.
Improving the journalistic message and deepening the political and social purposes of newspapers to gain the trust of the people is one of the important obligations of this era, because people generally gain information from mass media and the media are struggling to play an active and historic role in forming the public opinion. Through publishing multifaceted political and social approaches, the mass media trigger disagreements and arguments among the political parties and the public as well.
In a day like this, alongside commemorating the struggle and efforts of the media movement leaders and those who have sacrificed their lives for freedom of expression and the truth , we should remember that journalists will achieve far more if they do not exclude themselves in the social fabric , and do not make decisions which result in raising doubts and denial of one another, but they should rather work assiduously and honestly to build a civil society, support the human rights principles and citizenship in the Kurdistan Region.
Beside the conspicuous development that can be seen in the Kurdish media, we should mention the technical growth and the manifestation of the ideological and ethnic differences as well. In addition to tens of satellite stations, local TVs, radio broadcasting, publishing more than 500 newspapers and magazines in Kurdish, Arabic, Syriac, and Turkmani languages, all the political parties including the national, religious, democratic and the communists are free in their work without any censor- ship from the government or any type of obstacles in delivering their massages.
Various ethnic and religious groups in Kurdistan such as Turkman, Syriac, Kildan, Ezidi, Kakayi, Sabia, Christians and Muslims have their own media and publishing institutions in their own languages. This is looked upon as a bright side of democracy and everyone has been practically guaranteed this wide-range ground for delivering their message. They’re also free in defending their interests and rights. That’s why, across the Middle East, this experience of Kurdistan, though still not a recognized state, can be looked upon as a positive side of democracy and a step toward forming a modern and democratic society.
On this occasion, as a journalist who’s been working since 1991 uprising, and previously worked in the Kurdistan Libration Revolution’s media, I feel there’s a kind of abuse of position and social power by journalists, who have been divided into the fronts of the political conflicts. There are some who don’t differentiate between journalistic career as a national and strategic responsibility, and deepening the crises towards the direction of politicizing news and publishing disinformation. And some journalists perceive the profession as a source of income and salary. There’re others outside the political and social reality of Kurdistan who try to restrict the freedom of speech in accordance with their power and opinion. What’s more serious is that media institutions have assigned a large group of unemployed people to work as journalists. These non-professionals who have been a source of corruption in the manner of dealing with news, information, social and political developments. Therefore, it’s the duty and obligation of this stage that journalists return to the professionalism of their work. Journalists as active and lively part should work for the people and delivering the genuine message to the public. Journalists should not practice censorship against society and guide the public opinion towards misguided goals, and cause concerns, anxiety and distrust among people. It’s also not possible to perceive newspapers and other mass media actors as soulless tools separated from the current developments because nowadays media have witnessed a surprisingly great growth.
116 years ago, Kurdish newspaper begun with few printed pages. But today, internet, websites and social networks and other fields of internet are effectively used by the people, enabling them to contribute freely to find and publish news. The Kurdish media have been uniquely benefited a lot from computer and technology compared with the past, adding to the use of satellite, and broadcasting radio stations on FM and the internet, and publishing newspapers, magazines and books via websites, which can link Kurdish individuals together and with the outer world as well.
This is progress; journalists should catch up with the level of this rapid growth of media in order to act as a responsible social power. They should use the free word to nurture the Kurdish individuals to value freedom of speech, because words can have a thousand times more impact on people than bullets. And the media possess more than several army’s power in launching attacks.