November 9, 2017 (Sulaimani, KRG-Iraq): The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) hosted an event to mark UNESCO’s International Day to End impunity for Crimes Against Journalists. The conference was organized by AUIS students under the guidance of faculty and staff, and featured two panel discussions which reflected on the role of media during the conflict between Iraq and Erbil in consequence of the Kurdistan referendum, and strengthening free and independent news agencies in the region.
AUIS President Bruce Walker Ferguson in his opening remark, he welcomed the guests and thanked student organizers for their dedication and hard work. Followed by remarks from Maggy Zanger, a visiting professor from the University of Arizona School of Journalism. She emphasized the lack of protection of journalists in Iraq and that there has been no action taken to end the impunity. “Since 1992, more journalists have been killed in Iraq than any other country,” she said.
The first panel, the Role of Media During the Conflicts Between Erbil and Baghdad, moderated by Koral Nouri, a Kurdish activist and a journalist, discussed the regional politics and how media platform was used as a tool for political propaganda. The panel included prominent Iraqi journalists, including Fazil Hawramy, Mushriq Abbas, Dana Asaad, Dr. Saman Fawzi, and Sherwan Mala Ibrahim.
The second panel reflected on Strengthening Free and Independent Media Institutions. AUIS professor Barin Kayaoglu, moderated the panel which composed of an academic, Chro Shahan, and representatives from prominent news agencies, including Hemin Lihony, Twana Osman and Rahman Gharib. The discussion mainly focused on issues such as lack of support for independent media in the region and the need for more journalists with neutral political views.