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Erbil EU chief hails Duhok for 'freedom of expression, opinion': official

  2021-06-17  | 
 Zhyan News Network
Duhok Governor Ali Tatar meets with Head of the European Union (EU) Liaison Office in Erbil Vincent-Guillaume Poupeau in Duhok, Kurdistan Region, Iraq, June 16,2021. Photo by EU Delegation to Iraq - Erbil Office
 Zhyan News Network

SULAIMANI – Amid local and international uproar on the case of Duhok detainees and convicts, Duhok Governor Ali Tatar said that the European Union (EU) representative in the Kurdistan Region has hailed Duhok governorate as a haven for “freedom of expression and opinion.”

On Wednesday (June 17), Tatar met with head of EU Liaison Office in Erbil Vincent-Guillaume Poupeau in Duhok and discussed “the different crises the province of Duhok has been faced with, and the response to these crises,” the EU office in Erbil said.

“We were overwhelmed by Mr. Consul [Poupeau] saying that Duhok is the city w[h]ere the freedom of expression and opinion is at the highest level in Kurdistan and Iraq as a whole. We also are proud of Duhok and thank the EU for their continued provision humanitarian assistance,” Tatar said in a now-modified post on Facebook. 

Zhyan English tried to reach out to the the EU official and office for the veracity of Duhok governor's statement, but it has not received a reply as of early afternoon. 

In summer and autumn 2020, the security forces clamped down on anti-government protests rocking Duhok at the time, and detained scores of teachers, activists, journalists and protesters, with many still behind the bar. 

On Tuesday, Amnesty International said that at least 30 people still remain in jail nearly one year after their detention during protests in Duhok between August and October 2020. 

It called on authorities in the Kurdistan Region to end “arbitrary arrests and harassment” against protests under the excuse of preserving “national security.”

Five activists and journalists, known Badinan activists, among the detained were sentenced by a court in Erbil in February to six years in prison for controversial charges amounting to the undermining the security and stability of the Kurdistan Region. The court ruling was upheld by the Kurdistan Region’s appellate court in Erbil in May.

The case has come under fire by the international watchdogs such as Committee to Protect Journalists (CPT), Amnesty International and foreign missions in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq such as the EU, UN, US, UK, Canada, Germany and France for shortcomings and failure to fair trial. 

It comes in the charges within the case of the five that they “contacted the US and German consulate generals, were paid by them, visited them [consulate diplomats] in a hotel and showed them Dure area in Barzan.”

(Zhyan English)