On Monday, June 17, 2019, Kurdish intelligence forces (Asayish) detained Assyrian journalist Hormuz Mushi in Dohuk, Iraq. As of June 19, 2019, the Assyrian Policy Institute confirmed that Mushi continues to be held in Dohuk without any legitimate charges against him.
Mushi has been detained for his reportage of the discovery and neglect of an Assyrian heritage site on May 11, 2019. The arrest came more than a month after Mushi published a video (see below) of an Assyrian heritage site near Fayda sub-district in Nineveh Governorate, calling for the protection of Assyrian heritage.
In the video originally published to his personal Facebook account, Mushi states, "We ask the authorities, whether the regional government or the government in Baghdad, to send experts in the field of archaeology to properly excavate and protect these sites." The Dohuk Directorate of Antiquities reportedly filed a complaint against Mushi with a regional court which subsequently led to Mushi's arrest. KRG-affiliated forces control security in Fayda sub-district and the surrounding area, despite the fact that it is outside the KRG's legal jurisdiction.
The detention of Hormuz Mushi is an illustration of the repressive atmosphere created by the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Asayish, where journalists, researchers, and ordinary civilians risk their lives daring to report on the reality of Assyrians living under KRG rule. Mushi's arrest is part of a long-term strategy employed by the KRG to silence those who express dissent or critique the government.
In a statement published on June 19, 2019, Assyrian MP Fareed Yaqoob condemned the arrest and criticized the KRG's neglect of Assyrian heritage sites.
The Assyrian Policy Institute believes Mushi's work covering the heritage site discovered in Fayda sub-district is the sole reason for his detention. KRG authorities should immediately and unconditionally release Hormuz Mushi.
Update: Hormuz Mushi was released on June 20, 2019. More information to follow.
Video published by Hormuz Mushi on May 11, 2019.