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Erbil and Duhok activists arrested over free speech: official

  2021-02-13  | 
 Zhyan News Network
 Zhyan News Network

SULAIMANI – Dozens of Erbil and Duhok journalists, activists and teachers have been detained in retaliation for exercising their free speech, said Kurdistan Journalists Syndicate Secretary in Sulaimani.

More than 26 journalists, activists and political opposition figures are in the Kurdistan Democratic Party-held prisons in Erbil, Duhok and Badinan, without charge or trial for periods ranging from several weeks to a year.

“The activists and journalists who have been detained in Erbil and Badinan are not spies, they have been arrested for exercising their free speech, some of them have been detained over emoji, comments, and likes,” Karwan Anwar told Voice of America (VOA).

During an interview with VOA, Anwar expressed concerns that more restrictions against free speech is possible in the Kurdistan Region, saying “It is possible that over this interview that we are doing, I will be arrested, since I have expressed my opinion.”

According to journalism law, there is no censor against journalists and there should be no restrictions against free speech, Anwar added.

In its year-end report, the Metro Center documented nearly 400 violations were committed against journalists and media outlets in the Kurdistan Region in 2020.

The violations included 74 arrests without a warrant, 163 detentions, the shuttering of four offices of broadcasters, and 42 cases of confiscation of journalists’ equipment.

(Zhyan English)