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NRT office in Duhok closed again after reopening for several hours Monday morning

Security forces initially shuttered the office on Sunday
NRT office in Duhok (Photo: NRT Digital Media)
2019-01-28

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SULAIMANI — NRT's  office in Duhok was shut down again by the security forces several hours after reopening on Monday morning (January 28), one day after it was initially shut down by the security forces.

NRT Digital Media reporters in Duhok said the security forces had allowed them to reopen the office Monday morning, but were then told to leave the premises.

An NRT reporter said that the Asayish had told them that security forces would not allow the reopening until a judge ordered them to do so.

Whether to close down a media organization's offices is a power held by the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Ministry of Culture and Youth, which on Sunday said that they had not ordered the inital closure on Sunday, nor had they been asked to do so.

“There is no decision from us about shutting down the NRT office in Duhok and we have not been asked to execute the decision,” Spokesman of the Ministry of Culture and Youth Farhang Gomashini told NRT Digital Media.

“The security forces have other duties and responsibilities to do, not closing a channel’s office,” he added.

The spokesman stressed that the closure of a channel needs to follow legal procedures.

The closure of NRT's office in Duhok came after KRG Prime Minister Nehcirvan Barzani said during a press conference “we deal severely with channels that bypass Kurdistan security.”

The Kurdistan Region’s Ministry of Culture and Youth, which has jurisdiction in such matters, said the ministry had not been consulted about closing the office.

Civil society groups condemned the closure, including the Metro Center for Journalists’ Rights and Advocacy, the Kurdish Media Watchdog Organization, and the Committee for Defending Journalist Liberty and Rights of the Kurdistan Journalists’ Syndicate.

On Saturday evening, the security forces arrested an NRT team while they were filming in front of Duhok Emergency Hospital in order to report on the condition of injured protesters who were being transferred there.

Several other NRT reporting teams were also arrested. All NRT staff were later released.

At least one person died and at least ten people were wounded when protesters stormed a Turkish military facility in Shiladze in Duhok province.

The protests were in response to Turkish airstrikes that killed four people on Wednesday.

(NRT Digital Media)

This story was updated at 12:51 pm EBL.