Sunday, November 3, 2013

NGOs ram turtle-like Internet service in Iraqi Kurdistan

Goran S. Ghafour

The Kurdish society suffers from dozens of social, cultural, religious, political and
administrative flaws along with irresponsible businessmen who never think of giving a
dime to rebuild the war-riddled region. All the same, there is a giant force of cartel that
strives to exterminate the middle class (following the worst example of the American
deadly capitalism), which serves only a precarious elite in Kurdistan. One way to rescue
the Kurdish society from this iron fist-ruling is the effective role of rattling, effective,
robust NGOs.
Since 2000, I have seen a sea of appalling examples and a drop of good example of
NGOs in Kurdistan. That’s because even the NGOs are run by fidget entourage of the
cartel. Happily, On October 27, 2013, I saw a terrific stand from the NGOs. The
Kurdistan Volunteer Organization (KVO) launched a campaign on that day against one
of the giant cartels in Kurdistan: The network of internet services in Kurdistan, which is
controlled only by a few politically-involved businessmen. The campaign, I call it
Bravery Campaign, is first in its kind to tell the destructive business empires ’Stop
sucking our blood!’
Main line of the campaign reads: No for the badness and monopoly of internet access
in Kurdistan. The idea of the campaign came from, Hemin Farid, the head of the KVO,
shortly supported by 48 other NGOs. In just two days, the campaign has collected
more than 30 thousand signatures in an aim to reach a million. And after one day,
Kurdistan’s ministry of transportation and communication broke the ice and called upon
the internet service companies to meet the requirements of the ministry, which is
providing a high quality service. Any moves otherwise will result in dragging them to
court, the ministry warned. I don’t believe the companies will listen to the ministry’s
call, however it’s better than silence.
Only three companies supply internet services in Kurdistan through deals with foreign
companies plus a dozen of smaller sub-contractors in Erbil, Sulaimaniyah and Dhok
provinces. The service operates at a very slow pace, yet very expensive. 7/24 internet
service reaches $50 USD a month. In some areas, the fee is even higher. The internet
speed is only 256 kilobytes per second, making the service move like a turtle!
The NGOs can stir the public and then put pressure on government to take an action regulating the tele-communication services in Kurdistan. The KVO launched the Brave
Campaign to do so. In a very short period, it influenced a ministry to talk! That means
the public in Kurdistan are there for change but need a dynamic energy to move them.
Societies change only after the public moves. This is a positive sign and a corner stone
of building a strong civil society in Kurdistan.
NGO’s need stronger media backup in Kurdistan. Sad to say, media in Kurdistan don’t
cover the campaign much. Few media outlets covered it in short new while the rest
trampled on the indelible move. Media and NGO’s together can be a stronger force to
stand against the hidden monopolists in Kurdistan. I know much of Kurdish media is
run by them , but change can start through smallest, invisible, unheard voices!
*Goran S. Ghafour, a young Kurdish novelist and journalist, is a
doctoral/GTA student at KU William Allen White School of Journalism and
Mass Communication in Lawrence, KS, USA. His latest novel titled Heart 2
is now available in Kurdistan. Heart 2 will come out next year in English.

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