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Student journalist killed in Erbil, Iraq

Article and Solidarity Appeal


Kurds protested the torture and slaying of Zardasht Osman, a 23-year-old journalist, outside Parliament in Erbil, Iraq, last week.
Kurds protested the torture and slaying of Zardasht Osman, a 23-year-old journalist, outside Parliament in Erbil, Iraq, last week.

by Akram Nadir and Kevin Bell

The body of Zardasht Osman, a 23 year old University student was dumped in front of the offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in Mosul (about 50 km west of Erbil) on Wednesday, May 5. Zardasht had been tortured, before being executed with two gunshots to the head. Please add your name to the protest!

An outspoken critic of the Nationalist leadership of the Kurdish semiautonomous region Zardasht had received a threatening phone call in January telling him to leave Erbil on account of his writing. He was a contributing to the online journal Kurdistan Post, and the print journals Samal Post and Hawlati, often under a pseudonym to protect himself from retribution. His most recent article was a scathing criticism of top officials in the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which is also the party of Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani.

This incident is not isolated. In July of 2008 Mama Hama, also 23 and a reporter with the Sulaymaniyah-based Livin magazine, was executed for his outspoken views against the ruling Nationalist parties, and state security forces. As well, in February of 2008 the head of the IJU (Iraqi Journalists Union) Shihab al-Tamimi was also executed by gunmen for his outspoken views on the occupation and the sectarian violence in Iraq. According to the Kurdistan Syndicate of Journalists, since the killing of Mama Hama Kurdish and Iraqi journalists continue to be threatened, attacked, and harassed by security forces, with 357 reports of such incidents in the past year alone.

Zardasht was kidnapped in broad daylight outside the main entrance to the University of Salahaddin where he was set to receive his degree in English this June. Security forces stationed at the University entrance claim to have seen nothing. No reports were received from any of the checkpoints the kidnappers would have had to pass through, including one run by US forces. Popular opinion holds the state and security forces responsible for the killing, and the Journalists’ union cites many examples of state violence.

This is a clear continuation of the Iraqi and Kurdish ruling class’s attack on the so-called right to freedom of speech and expression. As a voice of dissent Zardasht, like the hundreds of other journalists from Russia to the Philippines, stood up against imperialism, the Iraqi state and the ruling class interests that they represent. Not only do the KDP, PUK and other Nationalist parties hold responsibility for this crime, but the US occupation which props it up also bears direct responsibility.

No peace can come to the oppressed people of Kurdistan and Iraq at the barrel of a gun. The interests of the local ruling elites are propped up by foreign imperialist powers who desire the freedom to profit at the expense of the people. Whether it is at the hands of the local office boys of imperialism, or directly at the hands of US imperialism (as seen with the killing of two Reuters journalists amongst other innocent victims in a helicopter attack in June of 2007) this campaign of terror and violence can only continue until the masses themselves take the power as they did in 1991. With the working class leading the way towards building a Socialist society the cycle of violence can be broken; this is the only road towards real freedom and real equality for all.

In memory of the heroic struggle of Zardasht Osman, and all journalists who give their lives in the cause of freedom for the masses, we call on all workers, students and anyone interested in the cause of justice for the oppressed victims of Nationalist, imperialist and ultimately capitalist violence to send their messages of solidarity to the following:

Email address for the family: "Aram Ali"

Akram Nadir (Union Organizer in Iraq and Kurdistan)
International Representative of Federation of Workers' Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI)

Email address for the Kurdistan Syndicate of Journalists:

And a letter of protest to the following:

Kurdish Regional Government (cut and paste letter into comment section)

E-mail address' for the KRG abroad :

President of the University of Salahaddin - Dr. Ahmed Anwar Dezaye

Email address for the US representatives in Iraq:

Email address for Iraqi government

International Labour Organization (ILO)

Sample letter of protest (please ensure that you fill in your name and organization at the beginning of paragraph 4, and at the end):

Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to you in outrage over the heinous killing of Zardasht Osman. This young man was killed for his outspoken views against the Nationalist leadership of Iraq and the Kurdish region.

The state disavows any involvement with this crime. If this is so then they should have no problem devoting the most sincere and transparent efforts towards the capture of the killers. On its website the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) makes the following statement in relation to this murder, “The KRG's priority is to maintain the security of the region and the well-being of its citizens, and to pursue every legal avenue to prevent crimes and to bring criminals to justice.”

Given the history of intimidation towards journalists and activists on the part of the state, and its repeated failure to “maintain the security of the region and well- being of its citizens” the only guarantee of sincerity and transparency in bringing these murderers to justice will be in opening up any investigation for the full involvement of the Kurdish Syndicate of Journalists, and the Iraqi Journalists’ Union.

I call, on behalf of the [insert the organization you represent here] for the KRG and the government of Iraq to open any investigation being done to the closest scrutiny and participation of the KSJ and the IJU and that a full public report be made available in a timely fashion.

[Your name here]
[Your organization here]

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Join the protest! Rally

Join the protest!

Rally against the killing and torture of Student Journalist Zardasht Osman

Grandview Park (Commercial drive @ Charles st.)
Vancouver, BC
Saturday May 29, 2010

05:00 pm

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