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KDP to politicize cases over mounting pressure on Duhok convicts

  2021-05-08  | 
 Zhyan News Network
A combined graphic of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) logo and Journalists and activists Sherwan Sherwan, Shvan Saeed, Guhdar Zebari, Hariwan Issa and Ayaz Karam, who were sentenced to six years in prison by a court in Erbil on February 16, 2021. Graphic by Zhya News Network
 Zhyan News Network

SULAIMANI – As pressure mounting on the party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) on Saturday (May 8) threatened to politicalize other criminal cases in other areas if its rivals and others carry on to press it on the case of five convicted journalists and activists handed six-year imprisonment sentence in February. 

On February 16, Second Branch of the Erbil Criminal Court sentenced the five to six years in prison over controversial charges for undermining the stability and security of the Kurdistan Region and was approved by the Region’s appellate court on Thursday. 

Prior to the court decision, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, also member of the KDP Politburo, accused the five of being “spies,” in a prejudicial judgement on February 10. 

The journalists and activists have denied the charges and accuse the KDP of politically manipulated their confessions.  

“Some sides showed reactions away from the rule of law and judicial authority’s regulations. We deem important the judicial agencies and rule of law should be respected and interventions in the court’s affairs and politicizing the topics will not profit the situation,” the KDP Politburo said in a statement. 

“What has happened is clear. After legal investigations by the legal and relevant sides deepening on the available evidence regarding attempts by some people to disrupt stability and the Kurdistan Region’s security has been targeted,” it said. 

“Thus it had better they let the legal institutions do their works and their roles should be respected.” 

The KDP statement missed Barzani’s prejudicial judgement. 

In a joint statement on Saturday, the appellate court and the Kurdistan Region Judicial Council said that the trial phases and decision on the case based upon “accurate documents, evidence and information and they have dealt with the case with extreme professionality, legality and independency and impartiality.”

The court approval can be appealed, the joint statement added. 

One of the charges directed by the courts at the five is that “they contacted the US and German General Consulates, met their diplomats in a hotel and were paid by them, showed the diplomats in Dure in Barzan area" where ruling Barzani family belongs to. 

Following the approval, the German foreign ministry and consulate general in Erbil lashed out at the court accusation and said it was a matter of routine to speak and meet with journalists and activists and called on Kurdistan president to invoke his authority to issue an amnesty for the convicts. 

The US consulate has declined on the court ruling so far, but reiterated it support to the “freedom of the press and media,” in emails sent to the local media outlets not published on social media. 

The case has crystalized the state of the freedom of the press and expression in a Region that is officials describe it as a beacon of democracy in the Middle East. 

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.  

Last summer and autumn, a number of journalists and activists, including the five, 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.

(Zhyan English)