Three journalists detained in Mosul
Media cadre of PUK arrested in Kirkuk

Journalists, photographers and cameramen face difficulties in covering the disputed territories. Photo by Viktor Forgacss for Unspalsh

By KirkukNow

The Iraqi national security service denies it has detained a journalist affiliated to a Kurdish party in Kirkuk on Sunday and to be sent to court for unknown charges, following the detention of three journalists from Kirkuk while covering an ISIS attack in a region of Ninewa.

On September 5th, Abdullah Sabir, known as Abdullah Hassari, a media cadre of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, PUK, one of the leading Kurdish parties, was detained by national security in the district of Altun Kopri, Pirdy in Kurdish.

"One of the security services asked him to go to Pirdy and when he went there on Sunday, he was detained," his brother Shivan told Kirkuknow.

Shivan said his brother went missing for hours. At 2 pm, on September 5th, he called and said he is arrested and will be sent for trial but gave no any details.

"My brother Abdullah has been threatened several times for his posts on social media," without declaring which sides or parties threatened him.

Local officials of PUK, whom controlled Kirkuk and most of the disputed territories since 2003 up to ousting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ISIS in 2017, said they have no idea about the reason and will contact Iraqi Security Forces ISF in charge of the security of Kirkuk.

Najat Mohammed, media manager of Kirkuk office for PUK, said they have no idea what is the reason behind arrest of Hassari, will do their follow up and contact the security forces.

"Abdullah is a cadre of PUK and one of PUK journalists and works for the Politburo of PUK in Kirkuk."

A senior official of national security service and a source in Altun Kopri police denied detention or arrest of Hassari.

Kirkuk, located 238 kilometers north of Baghdad, is home to 1.2 million Kurds, Arab, Turkmens and other ethnic and religious minorities and the center of the disputed territories where Iraqi security forces have taken control in October 2017 following the declaration of defeat of ISIS by Iraqi government.

Following the military defeat of ISIS, discord over security arrangements, public services, and the lack of a unified administration in the disputed territories, have plagued victims and survivors.

The disputed territories extend from Khanaqin in the east on the border with Iran to the oil rich city of Kirkuk heading to the west of Mosul in Shingal, home to Ezidi ethno-religious minority, on the border with Syria.

Hassari is active on Facebook as his posts criticizing the security and political situation in Kirkuk, the disputed territories and the Kurdistan region. His last two posts were about the attacks by Daesh against ISF in Kirkuk and Salahaddin with figures about deaths and injuries.

The third post on September 4th was about the disputes between co-presidents of PUK since July where he clearly showed support for Bafel Talabani, of late Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, in face of his cousin Lahur Sheikh Jangi.

In a Facebook post on September 3rd, he criticized Iraqi army for deserting their base in Old Shahil village following ISIS attacks forcing the villagers to leave the village due to the security gap.

On September 1st, a soldier of the Iraqi army was killed, a civilian was abducted and eight civilians and soldiers were injured when over 20 militants of ISIS attacked Old Shahil village in Sargaran sub-district of Dubiz district, 35 km northwest of Kirkuk.

Kurds were holding the senior positions of Kirkuk such as governor Kirkuk and head of the provincial council up to 2017. Back in 2018 parliamentary elections, Kurds won 6 out of 13 seats of Kirkuk in the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad, Arab and Turkmen each three and one quota seat for the Christians.

Currently, Iraqi army, local and federal police, Brigade 61 of Special Forces along with Shiite paramilitary of Popular Mobilization Forces PMF, are under Kirkuk joint operations’ command, an umbrella for the security forces running the security of Kirkuk province. 

Three other journalists and media staff of Kirkuk (Ali Baghdadi and Diyar Mohammed for NRT, and Ozhin Jalal for Anadolu News Agency) were detained by Ninewa operations' command on September 4th for two hours for follow up coverage for the events in Old Shahil.

sargaran . sh7la (2)
Kirkuk, September 2nd 2021- The village of Old Shahil, northwest of Kirkuk looks deserted following Wednesday night attacks. KirkukNow

Ozhin Jalal said they were stopped because the security forces said they needed license from Ninewa operations command in charge of the area in order to cover the region.

"They have deleted the photos and videos in the memories of the cameras, took our phones and contacted other security forces then they let us go but did not allow us to cover the region," Jalal said.

The villages of old and new Shahil are home for 120 Kurdish families looking after their farms and cattle. ISIS militants took over the village in 2014 yet the villagers left few days and returned back to their homes.

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