Leading independent newspaper editor badly beaten

Reporters Without Borders condemns the severe beating that Asos Hardi, the founder and editor of the independent newspaper Awene (The Mirror), received from an unidentified gunman dressed in black as he left his office in Sulaymaniyah at around 7 p.m. yesterday

Hardi told Reporters Without Borders that his assailant pointed a gun at him and then hit him repeatedly. The gunman acted alone but a car was waiting nearby. “I had to be rushed to hospital and I have 32 stitches and six bruises on my head, but my condition is now stable and I was able to leave the hospital during the night,” he said.

The autonomous Kurdistan region’s authorities said they were investigating the attack in order to identify “the motives and those responsible.”

Despite repeated pledges by Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani, the number of cases of physical violence and abusive treatment of journalists has been increasing steadily ever since a wave of protests began in mid-February. Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to do everything possible to shed light on this case in order to realize their declared desire to improve the safety of journalists.

The attack on Hardi was publicly condemned today by 35 Iraqi Kurdish intellectuals. Hardi, who founded Awene in 2005, was awarded the Gebran Tueni Prize for courageous and independent journalism in the Arab world in 2009.

The attack on Hardi comes amid a surge in violence in the region. Since the start of August, there has been repeated military intervention in Iraqi Kurdistan by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the Turkish armed forces and Syrian elements. Many civilians have been killed in the border region without any reaction from the international community. With the world’s attention turned to Libya and Syria, there is currently no international media presence in Iraqi Kurdistan.