Iraq Business Report

Last updated at 23/12/2013

Kawa Garmyani: Symbol of Glory

Aras Ahmed Mhamad

On December 5, 2013, Kawa Garmyani, known as an anti-corruption Kurdish journalist, was shot down in a night raid in front of his mother’s eyes, in his parent’s house and died within a few seconds. 

Kawa in a Nutshell:

Kawa’s father, Ahmed, was a Peshmerga and was killed in 1987, when Kawa was only 10 years old. The fact that his father was a Peshmerga and participated in the Aylul Revolution forced his family to live in exile in the North of Iran in the city of Rasht. After a year, his family came back to Iraqi Kurdistan and settled in the city of Kalar. 

Kawa was brought up by his widowed mother in harsh economic situations where poverty and lack of basic needs of survival were very obvious those days. Kawa has two younger brothers and three sisters and being the eldest son in the family, he had to be the breadwinner and occupy the role of his father as well- that was the reason he gave up in the ninth grade. Kawa, in the early days of his teenage years, became a worker in the market to secure his family’s economic conditions.  

Before he became a journalist in 2005, he was a policeman. He wrote for the two prominent independent newspapers in Iraqi Kurdistan: namely, Hawlati (The People) and Awene (The Mirror). He also wrote for other media outlets including: Azadi Radio “Freedom Radio”, various Communist Party Outlets, Chawder Newspaper (The Observer). He was the Editor in Chief of Garan “Travel” Magazine for sometime until he became the Editor-in-Chief of Rayal Magazine and published 15 issues; he supervised both the magazine and the website.

He got married to Shireen Amin on December 12, 2012 when he was 30 and Shireen was 25. Shireen is the only surviving member of her family, after the black Anfal Campaign in 1988 was carried out by the Baath’s Regime in which 182,000 innocent Kurdish people were exposed to genocide. In short, their lives are quite similar in that they were both orphans and spent most of their lives in poverty. Kawa’s son, Amed, will have to live without a father. 

The Real Tragedy

Kawa Garmyani, a few days before his death and just 17 days before the arrival of his son, bought a book to find a name for his baby boy and according to his brother, Karwan; Kawa was about to name him “Idea”, though he first wanted to call him “Amed”. 

Shireen and Kawa had been just seven days away to celebrate the first anniversary of their wedding. Shireen, known as the single surviving daughter of the Anfal Campaign, would never have dreamed of such a catastrophic day. Kawa’s family members have chosen to name his baby son “Qalam” meaning “Pen” as a symbol of Kawa’s bravery and truthful pen and that Kawa is the third Martyr of Pen in Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Kawa and Shireen were living in a rented house near Kawa’s parent’s house. On the night of his death, the electricity of Kawa’s house was damaged and they didn't have electricity for three days, so they decided to have dinner at his parent’s house. 

Kawa’s House

Ever since the assassination, there have been many suggestions to buy the house and make it a home for the journalists, or a museum, or a national centre for research; to remain as a symbol of injustice, to let the future generations and the whole world know about Kawa’s heartbreaking death.
Soon after his death, many videos were uploaded onto the social networks where his wife morns and call the journalists to take actions against the “dark hands” and the “corrupted officials”.

What has pushed the public to sympathise and retaliate was Kawa’s house. Kawa with his wife were living in an almost dilapidated house with only one room to rest and sleep and one very ragged kitchen with minor furniture and equipments. The window of his room was covered by a piece of nylon to prevent cold and a few books and newspapers were around. The door of the room which was made of metal was almost wrecked. There were several holes in the wall and the house was very small.

What was more shocking for his coworkers and other journalists was that no one knew that Kawa was living in such situation and the house and he has been described by his friends as munificent, generous, honest, brave, and openhearted, and very calm. Someone who knew that one’s respect is neither gained through money nor do buildings not even one’s predecessors.

“Kawa’s house has achieved its glory from Kawa’s willpower and strength of character not money or other materialized stuff” Nabaz Goran, in a column for Hawlati Newspaper. He protests that Kawa’s family does not need to be pitied just because they do not live in a palace or do not have modern furniture; Kawa’s house deserves to be proud of because they have not lost their glory.           
Martyr of Pen

Kawa is the third Martyr of Pen in Iraqi Kurdistan after Sorani Mama Hama who was killed in 2008 in Kirkuk in his house in a similar scenario and Sardasht Othman in 2010 in Mosul after he was taken in front of the University of Salahadin in Hawler where he was a 4th year student in the English Department. 

Kawa’s Royal Magazine was mainly criticizing the corruption of some decision of the court house and the political conflicts in Kalar city. Mala Bakhtyar, the editor in chief of Chawder newspaper- where Kawa worked as a journalist- and Chief of Executive Body of  Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Political Bureau, claims that Kawa is neither killed by the Arab terrorists nor for a personal or tribal issue. So, his terror is because of his critical pen and freedom. And that is a very dangerous alarm under the authority of the PUK.

Following the assassination of Kawa, Mariwan Kanie, in his regular column for Awene newspaper states that that day was the bitterest day in his life. He adds that it was one of the days which he didn't even have the desire to look at Kurdistan on the world map. 

Ever since the assassination, there have been hundreds of rallies and demonstrations across the Iraqi Kurdistan’s cities and towns and even in Sweden, Belgium, England and some other countries to condemning the “dark hands” and sending the murderers to jail. However, none of the killers have been arrested; the shadow of his death is still roaming in the City of Kalar and Garmyan area haunting the mind and heart of his killers. 

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