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 Kurdish journalist killed near northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk

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Kurdish journalist killed near northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk  22.7.2008 




Soran Mama Hama, a reporter for the Kurdish-language magazine Lvin.
July 22, 2008

Kirkuk, Iraq's border with Kurdistan region, Gunmen killed a Kurdish journalist near the northern city of Kirkuk on Monday July 21, a police official said Tuesday.

Soran Mama Hama, a reporter for the Kurdish-language magazine Lvin, was shot late Monday in the Rasheed Awa village, where many Kurds were forced to relocate when Saddam Hussein sent thousands of Arabs into the oil-rich Kirkuk area to dilute the presence of Kurds and others.

Kirkuk police Brig. Sarhat Qadir said the motive for the slaying of the 23-year-old journalist was not immediately known.

The head of the Kurdish Journalists Union in Kirkuk, Latif Satih Faraj, blamed the killing on gangs seeking to silence reporters who want to expose corruption.

"This criminal act is to halt the free speech of independent journalists in Kirkuk," he said. "If the government can't protect Kurdish journalists in Kirkuk, we might advise them to withdraw from this city."

Kirkuk city is historically a Kurdish city and it lies just south border of the Kurdistan autonomous region, the population is a mix of majority Kurds and minority of Arabs,
Christians and Turkmen. lies 250 km northeast of Baghdad. Kurds have a strong cultural and emotional attachment to Kirkuk, which they call "the Kurdish Jerusalem."

Kurds see the area as part of their historical homeland and are pushing the government to hold a referendum in Kirkuk on whether to join the semiautonomous Kurdistan region. Kurdish objections,
www.ekurd.net meanwhile, are blocking parliament from clearing the way for important provincial elections scheduled for later this year.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 129 journalists and 50 media support workers have been killed since the U.S. invasion in 2003,
www.ekurd.net not including the most recent death.

Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution is related to the normalization of the situation in Kirkuk city and other disputed areas.

The article also calls for conducting a census to be followed by a referendum to let the inhabitants decide whether they would like Kirkuk to be annexed to the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region or having it as an independent province.

These stages were supposed to end on December 31, 2007, a deadline that was later extended to six months to end in July 2008.

The former regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had forced over 250,000 Kurdish residents to give up their homes to Arabs in the 1970s, to "Arabize" the city and the region's oil industry.

Copyright, respective author or news agency, AP | Agencies 

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