"Sir, why do you behave like this? I am not a criminal; I am just a correspondent of NRT," Karzan Tariq, Sulaimaniyah corresponded for Nalia Radio and Television NRT, told a member of Asayish (Kurdish Security) while he was in live coverage of gunfire exchange between the Asayish and commando unit of the vice president of Kurdistan region.
They take the microphone and the camera and tell him no one can cover this accident
Tariq was at home when the newsroom called him to cover the fire exchange in Sarchinar neighborhood of Sulaimaniyah on June 21, 2021.
"I covered the event over the phone till I reached Shar hospital where the injured were receiving treatment. I commenced live stream once I made it to the hospital.
Karzan's live coverage lasts only two minutes when a patrol of four-Asayish attacks the cameraman. "The headphone was in my ears and I said they are arresting us, all I could say. The four people immediately take the microphone."
11 people were injured when a security checkpoint of Sulaimaniya stop the daughter of Kurdistan region vice president Sheikh Jafar Mustafa and whose commando unit confront the Asayish and exchange fire.
Tariq contacted NRT, founded by the businessman Shaswar Abdulwahid in 2010, in 2016 while before that has worked for Payam TV of the Justice Group for five years.
"One of the Asyaish firmly pulled the headphone out of my ears and another took my phone. I told him phone is something personal and he replied one more word and I will break it."
I told him phone is something personal and he replied one more word and I will break it
"I expected that coverage of such an event won't pass smoothly as big number of Asayish were deployed in front of the hospital. Each truck going inside was carrying an injured."
After taking their equipment, the Asayish put Karzan and his cameraman in Land cruiser. "I told them we are not criminals so why you behave in this way with us? One of the said you have fabricated the event and reported one person was killed which is not true."
"I have never said people were killed and I stick to my professional career. He responded saying stop talking because we have been ordered not to let anyone cover this accident."
They are kept about 20 minutes. Later they pass them back their equipment and ask them to leave. Tariq resumes coverage over the phone.
Karzan has been harassed several times in the last two years. In October 2020, he was arrested twice.
"The first time I was on a live coverage in front of the Grand Mosque of Sulaimaniyah, downtown, when Asayish in ordinary uniform arrested me and handed me to the police whom said they were ordered more than once to arrest me," Tariq said.
After five hours of detention at Sara police station, Karzan was released.
A week later, on October 11th, he was covering a protest by civil servants against delay of salary payment in front of Sulaimaniyah governorate which resulted in a riot. 10 people were killed and over 60 were injured.
Four days ahead of Tariq's arrest, NRT was shut by Kurdistan regional government's ministry of culture for "irresponsible attitude."
NRT was covering the protests via its Facebook page.
"I had my press badge and Mic so I took out my phone to commence a live coverage. A number of the security personnel attacked me, took the phone and pushed me to their vehicle," Tariq recalls.
"A colleague told them he is a reporter where are you taking him? They started slapping and kicking him and kicked me as well."
A colleague told them he is a reporter where are you taking him? They started slapping and kicking him and kicked me as well
Tariq was taken to Kani Goma prison, 10 km southwest of Sulaimaniyah. He was investigated eye-folded. The day later he is transferred to 70 Forces of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK, west of Sulaimaniyah.
"They were guiding me what to do… they were abusing us. We were allowed to go to toilet in a specific time. Sometimes, they were folding our eyes."
Tariq was asked to sign a declaration not to participate in violent protests. "I told them a journalist not a protestor and they said these are the orders."
Two days later, Tariq was obliged to sign the declaration and taken eye-folded to emergency police in Sarchinar neighborhood.
"They have taken me to syndicate of journalists and told me I was released per efforts of brigadier general Chato Saleh, acting minister of interior."
Once released, Tariq was told by his journalist friends the Asayish were gathering information about him and his residence.
"Later they contacted me directly and asked me to visit them but I refused and said I have no business with you and they urged me to go and it will be a chat about media but I did not make the visit.
The police itself have filed a lawsuit against Tariq when he covered the mysterious death of his colleague Amanj Babani, his wife and their only son.
Tariq declined to reveal the ID on a witness he interviewed and his face was covered.
Law of journalism in 2007 states that journalist has the right to keep the identity of his source unless otherwise required by a judge.
Karzan awaits his trial scheduled August 1st.
Another case he has to face is a complaint by Mala Bakhtiyar, a senior official of PUK, for making a story about him broadcasted by NRT.
The first session was on May 21st which was adjourned when Tariq told the judge he has no any idea about the video tape VT.
Tariq believes that the staff of independent, semi-partisan and the opposition media face abuses "sometimes deliberately contrary to effective laws."
He has never filed a lawsuit despite all the harassment since "I have not any trust in the courts which can't get the journalists their rights back."