His Excellency Massoud Barzani
President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region
11 May 2010
We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to express our grave concern at the murder of journalist Sardasht Osman.
According to reports, Mr Osman's body was found in Mosul on the morning of 6 May, two days after he was kidnapped by armed men outside Salahadin University, where he studied English, in the nearby city of Erbil. Mr Osman wrote under the pseudonym Dashti Othman for the newspaper Ashtiname and for several websites, including Sbeiy.com, Awene.com, Hawlati.info and Lvinpress.com.
We are seriously concerned that Mr Osman may have been murdered because of his reporting. He had recently written an article for Ashtiname about a senior member of the Kurdistan regional government and had reported receiving a number of threatening phone calls telling him to stop criticising the government and officials.
Mr Osman is the second journalist in two years to be murdered in Iraqi Kurdistan. In July 2008, Soran Mama Hama, a reporter with the Sulaymaniyah-based Livin magazine, was shot outside his home in Kirkuk after writing articles critical of local politicians and security officials. Mr Mama Hama's killers have not been found.
We respectfully remind you that it is the duty of the state to provide an environment in which journalists are able to carry out their professional duties without fear of violence.
We respectfully call on you to ensure that the murder of Mr Osman is thoroughly investigated and that those responsible are quickly brought to justice. We urge you to do everything possible to ensure the safety of journalists in Iraqi Kurdistan.
We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers
World Editors Forum