Be visible, be safe!
Editors in chief of Kurdish media and their representatives met at the Culture Cafe in Sulaymaniya to discuss how to keep journalists safe during demonstrations. IMCK organised the session on February 15, 2012 to reduce incidents that involve journalists, with in mind the expected protests to remember the unrest that started on February 17 of last year in Sulaymaniya.
Last year almost 300 incidents involving journalists were reported - the real number is higher, as even during the meeting journalists reported incidents that they had not mentioned before. Both the Kurdistan Syndicate of Journalists and the Metro Centre Defending Journalists were present.
IMCK implored editors in chief to instruct their journalists not to be part of demonstrations, but to stay out and report from the side lines. It also produced special orange PRESS jackets to make journalists more visible during unrest, so they will not become the target of violence by police, as happened in the past.
International trainer Dan Mason warned that if journalists become in involved in demonstrations, they loose the power to make a positive difference by publishing: ,,You become an individual, not a journalist''.
IMCK board member and opinion maker Kawa Mohammed asked editors in chief to only send experienced reporters to demonstrations, and for those reporting to form teams to keep each other safe. He acknowledged that wearing the orange press jacket could make journalists a target, but hopes that it will be seen as a uniform, like police is wearing a uniform. ,,If they do attack journalists they no longer have an excuse, for that means they attack them on purpose.''
Participants in the meeting asked for police that do attack journalists to be punished, and the same for journalists that throw stones or shout abuse.
Orange jackets were presented to all media present, and will also be given to those media that could not be represented in the meeting.