SULAIMANI – A number of Dissatisfied Teachers Council along with several other people gathered in Sulaimani, Ranya, Kalar in protest of a court ruling and approval for the sentencing and of five journalists and activists in Erbil, calling for their release.
On April 6, the Kurdistan Region Court of Cassation approved a six-year
imprisonment sentence handed down to
the three journalists and two activists Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Zebari, Hariwan Isaa, Ayaz Karam and Shvan Saeed by an Erbil criminal court on February 16 over charges amounting to undermining the security and stability of the Kurdistan Region.
They are locally known as Badinan convicsts as they were arrested in Badinan area in Duhok.
The international organizations such as Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Amnesty International, French, German consulate generals in Erbil and the EU, UN and Canadian missions in Iraq have criticized the court process and ultimate ruling.
“We are wishing a happy Eid to the Badinan convicts who have faced legal and conscientious violations. Smallest duty on our shoulders is to always stay with them and always speak out to defuse those laws that they were sentenced by,” civil activist Nizar Muhammad said near Bakhi Gshti public park in Sulaimani.
“We have taken to the streets in the first day of holy Eid al-Adha as a support to the families of Badinan convicts,” a protester in Kalar told Zhyan News Network. “We are telling the authorities enough to deform your governance.”
The protester called for the release of detained teacher and activist Badal Barwari, the convicts and other detainees in the custody of the security forces in Erbil.
On August 19, 2020, Barwari, one of the organizers of anti-government apprehended by the police in Duhok on charges of Communication Devices Misuse Law. He is supposed to
be put to trial on August 17, Aso Hashim, head of Barwari’s team of lawyers, said on April 10.
The law is views by dissents as a means by the authority to quash anti-government rhetoric.
Barwari were arrested several times in the past due to his anti-government criticism and was among the main organizers of protests in Duhok last year.
Last summer and autumn, a number of journalists and activists, including Barwari, were arrested by the security forces affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Duhok.
The detentions were viewed as a bid by the KDP to crack down protests criticism over KRG decision to delay and slash public sector salary payments amid deteriorating economic conditions.
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 the KDP in areas under its jurisdiction last year.
A retired judge from the Kurdistan Region Court of Cassation told Voice of America (VOA) that the court are not independent of interventions by the political parties and described the upheld case as “politically motivated.”