SULAIMANI – A Kurdish parliamentarian in the Swedish parliament, Amineh Kakabaveh, raised the issue of the Kurdistan Region’s recent crackdown on journalists and activists in parliament, asking the government of Sweden to take consistent and decisive position for the release of Badinan detainees.
The Swedish Parliament held a session on Tuesday (March 9), during which the Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde from Social Democratic Party answered an interpellation on human rights in Kurdistan.
During the discussion of Kakabaveh's motion in parliament, there were arguments between Kakabaveh and Ann Linde.
Kakabaveh criticized the arrest of 26 journalists and activists by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), saying “It has shaken us that KRG's new governing leadership, led by Masrour Barzani since August 2020, has had 26 journalists and activists arrested and imprisoned who in various ways expressed criticism of KRG's policies.”
Over a score of journalists, activists and political opposition figures are held in jails under the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) jurisdiction in Duhok governorate without charge or trial for periods ranging from several weeks to a year. Amineh Kakabaveh, a Rojhilat-born member of the Swedish Parliament, is outraged by the ignorance in Europe.
“We in Sweden were saddened to see how the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on several occasions crushed peaceful demonstrations and other expressions of opinion and that critical journalists disappeared or were kidnapped and then found murdered,” Kakabaveh said during the parliament session.
She argued that independent journalist Sherwan Sherwani, who is serving a six-year prison sentence, is an example who has been convicted based on “legislation inherited from Saddam Hussein who sentenced thousands of Kurds and Peshmerga to death under that section.”
Accusations and sentences under such a section (156) would constitute a serious violation of free speech and in particular in the struggle of Kurdish political history for democracy and human rights, she added.
“This is of course not only a very serious matter for me as a Swede of Kurdish origin but also an extremely serious matter for many Swedes, from members of parliament to grassroots activists who have fought for the rights of the Kurds for decades.”
The meeting by the Swedish Parliament comes 22 days after a six-year prison sentence was issued against Sherwan Sherwani and another four journalists and activists on charges of “endangering the national security of the Kurdistan Region,” sparking outrage on social media and among human rights activists.
The defendants all denied the charges against them and lawyers lamented a “bad” ruling, saying the charges had “previously been decided.”