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Families of Badinan detainees reject charges against relatives

  2021-04-20  | 
 Zhyan News Network
Combined photo of the nine detained activists and journalists impending trials by court - Graphic by Zhyan News Network
 Zhyan News Network

SULAIMANI – The families of the Badinan detainees arrested since last summer and autumn said on Monday (April 19) that they will reject charges against their family members and their confessions under duress. 

Last summer and autumn, a number of journalists and activists were arrested 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.

In February, five of the detainees were sentenced to six years in prison over controversial charges for undermining the stability and security of the Kurdistan Region, but they deny the charges and claim their confessions were manipulated.

Local and international watchdogs have voiced alarm by the aggravating state of freedom of press and expression in the Region, especially after clampdowns on anti-government protests by the security forces affiliated with Barzani’s party the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in areas under its jurisdiction last year. 

On March 4, the Kurdistan Region Security Council published a video clip featuring the detained and their confessions to charges of espionage for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

On Monday, lawyer for Badinan the detainees Bashdar Hassan said that nine other of them had been prepared to face trial and their status had been changed to laborers to facilitate convicting them.

Amada Sleman, son of Sleman Musa, representing the families of the detained, said that "they will reject any charges under torture and threats extracted by Asayish (security)," against their relatives.

“I have not had any information about our relatives for more than eight months. We have not had any rights to contact them by no means,” he said in a video clip to the public opinion.

“A while ago, about 100 members of the detainees’ families gathered near the UN headquarters in Erbil, but they were detained for 15 hours and 21 of them were imprisoned in solitary confinement,” Sleman said.”

He also called on the Kurdistan Region’s people to speak up in defense of the affected journalists and activists.

“To deliver our demands, we will visit the consulates and missions of the foreign countries in the Kurdistan Region,” 

385 violations against journalists and media outlets were logged throughout 2020, according to Gharib’s watchdog. 

On December 12,2020, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on Barzani to respect press freedom. Also, the US has shed light on the state of press freedom in Department of State's annual report, especially the case of the detained and convicted journalists and activists.

On March 30,  Hassan told Zhyan that the detainees have gone on hunger strikes and their health was in poor shape.

(Zhyan English)