Reporters Without Borders (RSF), one of the world’s leading media freedom organisations, reported last week that it has recorded a ‘growing number of abuses’ by the PYD against reporters and journalists working in Rojava. They allege that the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the local security forces (Asayish) have been perpetrating ‘abuses on a large scale’, claiming ‘the PYD and its henchmen have no qualms about arresting or even abducting news and information providers whom they see as too critical in order to silence them and intimidate the others.’
Peace in Kurdistan Campaign received a copy of a letter written to RSF by freelance journalist Karlos Zurutuza, who has worked in Kurdistan for many years, responding to the RSF. Given that the picture drawn in the reports entirely contradicts his experience in the region, he felt obliged to write to the organisation and make his experience public. He makes clear that during the six recent trips he has made to Kurdish-controlled regions of Syria, he has found no evidence of the censorship or harassment detailed in the RSF reports, and has been able to work in Rojava without obstacles from authorities. Karloz requested we publicise his letter to offer readers and the public his personal experience of journalistic work on the ground in Rojava, which is a clear challenge to the claims. We reproduce his letter below.*
*Editors Note: Karlos Zurutuza originally named fellow journalist Mr Massoud Hamid as author of the RSF report. This version of the letter was circulated and published before he knew of this mistake, and has now been replaced with an amended version (below). He has written a public apology to Mr Hamid for the error, which we also publish below. Nonetheless, Mr Zurutuza stands by his statements on his experiences as a journalist in Rojava.