SULAIMANI – A Kurdistan Parliament’s lawmaker said on Friday (April 9) that the sentenced Badinan journalists and activists are in a poor health condition because their prison are squalid and overcrowded, saying four inmates at the jail had contracted COVID-19.
Last summer and autumn, a number of journalists and activists were arrested including Badal Barwari by the security forces affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Erbil in a bid to crack down protests criticism over the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) decision to delay and slash public sector salary payments amid deteriorating economic conditions.
Five of the detainee, Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Zebari, and Ayaz Karam and activists Shvan Saeed Omar and Hariwan Issa, were tried and each sentenced by
a court in Erbil to six years in prison over controversial charges of undermine the Kurdistan Region’s security, but cases of Barwari and Omed Baroshki were put aside and sent back to the investigative court for further hearings.
The convicts have denied the charges.
The sentences caused uproar in the Kurdistan Region and was condemned by local and international human rights watchdogs and foreign missions including the US embassy.
Rapporteur of the Social Affairs and Protection of Human Rights Committee Badriya Esmail Mahmud told Voice of America (VOA) that they were previously not allowed to visit the prison and were given a permit after a request to only visit the five convicts.
On April 1, the parliamentary committee’s lawmakers visited the jail
to closely check on their health condition.
“Each hall [in the prison] has 135 inmates, while it should be 30 to 35 according to the standards. The convicts told us they had contracted allergy, rash and pimple, even one of them used the leprosy term [with all my due respect] because there is a lot of pressure and overcrowdedness in the room,” Badriya said.
The lawmaker, who is from the Kurdistan Justice Group (KJG), told the news media outlet, that one of the inmates told her that they see doctors once in a week for primary treatment, claiming one of the inmate told the lawmakers that he could not afford an ointment for his allergy and rash and there are others who could afford medicines for their chronic diseases.
“One of the patients [inmates] needed a surgery and treatment abroad, but he was not allowed,” the lawmaker said.
On Thursday, son of Badal barware, who was among the detainees upending a trial, told Zhyan
News Network that his family was unaware of his father’s health conditions following rumors about his deteriorating condition in the prison.
On March 30, Lawyer Bashdar Hassan, representation the detainees, told Zhyan
that the detainees have gone on hunger strikes and their health was in poor shape.