"Marlene Förster and Matej Kavčič were our guests"

Hisên Azad, on behalf of the Şengal Autonomous Council, demands the immediate release of journalists Marlene Förster and Matej Kavčič, imprisoned in Iraq: "They are independent media professionals and were guests of the Yazidi community."

On April 20, Marlene Förster and her Slovenian colleague Matej Kavčič were arrested in the main Yazidi settlement area of Şengal by Yazidi security forces and taken to Baghdad. Both had been researching the social development of the Yezidi community for months after the genocide perpetrated by the terrorist militia "Islamic State" (IS) in 2014. The Iraqi authorities apparently accuse them of "terror support", and their arrest took place shortly before the Iraqi army began the military escalation in Şengal. Of Marlene Förster, it became known a week after her abduction that she was being held at the headquarters of Iraqi intelligence in Baghdad. Matej Kavčič is also under "consular care" from Germany, but so far there is no information about his whereabouts and condition.

Not only in Germany and Slovenia are relatives, colleagues and friends very worried about Marlene Förster and Matej Kavčič. Due to their stay of several months, they are also known to many people in Şengal. Hisên Azad is a member of the Şengal Autonomy Council and told ANF that both journalists wanted to introduce the world to "the voice, the color, the pain, the joy, the religion and the faith of the Yazidi community. "They researched the Ferman [IS genocide of 2014] and conducted interviews with abductees. Among other things, they planned to make a documentary film. They were here for a good three months and stayed in our community. During that time, they visited many families and got to know the people here."

Their arrest is a great injustice in the eyes of the population, Azad continued: "We see it as a threat to the Yazidi community. The Iraqi government seems to want to prevent our way of life and what is happening in Şengal from becoming known. The central government and the KDP are responsible for many incidents in Şengal."

Azad Hisên demands the immediate release of the European journalists, saying, "They are independent media workers and were guests of our community. That is why we stand behind them. If we don't take a stand today, such incidents will happen again."