Photographer Kamaran Najm’s Friends Break Silence on His 2014 Kidnapping

Posted by on Tuesday November 14, 2017 | Photojournalism

Iraqi Kurdish photographer, Kamaran Najm, on a walk in the mountains that make up the border between Iraq and Iran on December 6, 2011. Photo © Sebastian Meyer

Three years after photojournalist Kamaran Najm, co-founder of the Iraqi photo agency Metrography, was kidnapped in Iraq, his friends and colleagues have ended their media blackout and released information on his disappearance. Kamaran was abducted by ISIS militants on June 12, 2014, shortly after he was wounded while covering the fighting between ISIS and Kurdish forces near Mullah Abdullah, Iraq. Initial reports by AFP said Najm had been killed. According to Sebastian Meyer, co-founder of Metrography, which is based in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, Najm made a call on June 13 using his kidnappers’ phone. He said he had been taken to the city of Hawija.

At the time of his kidnapping, Najm’s colleagues at Metrography asked journalists’ rights groups and media outlets, including PDN, not to publish information on Kamaran or his work out of fear of increasing his value as a hostage.

Three years and five months later, Meyer writes that they are lifting the blackout.

“Although huge efforts have been made for his release, there has been no contact with him since June 13 [2014]. There have been many sightings of Kamaran since 2014, but none of them have been confirmed.”

Meyer adds, “We have decided to lift the media blackout because we think it’s important to bring Kamaran’s story to light. The risks that journalists face are enormous and we think that Kamaran’s story should be told.” After recent military advances against ISIS-held territory, “We no longer believe that it’s dangerous to talk about Kamaran. Although the odds aren’t good, we still remain hopeful that we will find Kamaran soon.”

Kamaran, 30, has shot assignments for Der Spiegel, Times of London, Vanity Fair, Washington Post, NPR, and other European and American news outlets. His work has been shown in festivals and conferences in France, Bangladesh, Georgia, Holland, Lebanon, and the US. In 2009 Kamaran founded Metrography, the first Iraqi photo agency, to train and promote Iraqi photographers.

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