Dhia Al-Kawwaz: 'I will expose the truth'

Iraqi journalist Dhia Al-Kawwaz shocked the world this week by allegedly fabricating the killing of his family by a government he despises. Menassat.com contacted him in Amman.
By Rita Barotta, Menassat.com Staff Writer
Al-Kawwaz Interview
Iraqi journalist Dhia Al-Kawwaz (center) at a wake for his family, earlier this week in Amman. © AFP

Editor's Note: The Dhia Al-Kawwaz story has caused much controversy in media circles. The press advocacy group Reporters without Borders, which originally released the story, has publicly disowned Al-Kawwaz, as have members of his family on Al Hurra TV, who say "he did it to raise money from abroad." In this interview, Al-Kawwaz provides no clear answers. But there are enough gray areas in this story - e.g. there is some reason to believe that one of Al-Kawwaz' brothers-in-law was indeed killed - to warrant giving Al-Kawwaz a chance to say his piece.

M. Al-Kawwaz, you are accused of making up the story about your family being massacred. What is your explanation?

Dhia Al-Kawwaz: "There have been no no lies at all. I hold some serious information that I can’t reveal to you right now, but I will in the coming days. This is what really happened: my young sisters were forced to recognize that no calamity has afflicted my family. But my sisters were wearing black clothing. Black is a sign of sadness and misfortune. My sister’s eyes were red because she had been crying. What does that mean? My family is living a catastrophe, but I do not know much about it because the government has stopped all communication between me and my family."

But you said they were dead, your sisters, their husbands and their children. Clearly, they are not.

"I am asking for an international investigation. I have lost members of my family and I hold the Iraqi government responsible for the protection of those who are still alive. A crime has occurred. Among the murdered persons is a cousin of mine, Bassem Hamid Al Amri, who used to send us all the information about the activities of the government."

What would be the reason for these crimes you say happened?

"I have exposed this government before world opinion, submitting forged certificates. Ministers were providing fake certificates. Their testimonies are illegal and informal. There is a hidden interference of Iranians in the Iraqi parliament. More than twenty people working inside the parliament have the Iranian nationality and their kin hold important positions in the Iranian security forces. They cause hardship to Iraq. The country is occupied by the United States and Iran as well. Our duty as journalists is to show to the whole world what this government really is. It is a purely Iranian one. The problem is that the American occupation forces support this government."

The Iraqi government has issued an arrest warrant against you.

"I have the German nationality, so the Iraqi authorities cannot arrest me. I am ready to expose the truth. I have the evidence and the proof."

We visited your site today but found no news about the whole affair. Why not?

"What is on the front page is the most recent news from Iraq. All information about this incident exists in the archives. One thousand people die every day in Iraq. I am not defending my personal point of view. I am ready to give up my family and money and all I have for the sake of my country.

Why do you think the Iraqi government is after you specifically?

"The message that the Iraqi government wants to send was not addressed to me, but to every journalist in Iraq: 'Do as you're told, or what is happening to Dhia Al-Kawwaz will happen to you. Al-Kawwaz is a liar and we know how to shut him up and how to deal with him'.”

When your sister appeared on Al Hurra TV and said she was ashamed to have you as her brother, was she under pressure from the government too?

"Yes, she was. I received information that the channel tried for three hours to portray my sister smiling or laughing but couldn't. They broadcast only five or six minutes. But the fact is that the correspondents stayed at our house for five hours, with security agents present during the entire interview."

What is your answer to the people who call you a liar?
"Thousands of people are killed every day. I wish that all Iraqis understand that this is not only Al-Kawwaz’s issue. Why should the media talk about my family and not about all the slaughtered people?"

Also read:
The massacre that wasn't
Posted on 11/29/2007 - 19:08
It was a good day for the family of Iraqi journalist Dhia Al-Kawwaz; they turned out not to have been massacred after all. It was not such a good day for the credibility of Iraqi journalism. al-kawwaz.jpg