More than 1,000 protesters took to the streets in Erbil, Iraq’s Kurdish regional capital, to condemn a new law requiring all public demonstrations to have government permits. Protesters said the law is part of a broader crackdown on free speech in the autonomous Kurdistan region. In the past six months, the government has sued at least 60 writers or media organizations for publishing work critical of the government, according to the Kurdistan Journalists’ Syndicate. Aso Karim, a legislator with the Kurdistan Democratic Party, said the restrictions were necessary because “Iraq is not politically stable.” (NYT, Jan. 4)
There were repeated demonstrations over press freedom issues in Iraqi Kurdistan last year.