Journalists and activists in South Kurdistan warn of decline in freedom of thought and expression

Journalists and activists from Germiyan said that there is a decline in freedom of thought and expression in the Kurdistan Region, and added that the second punishment of Shêrwan Shêrwanî is illegal and should be protested.

A court in Hewler sentenced Behdinan journalist Shêrwan Shêrwanî to 4 more years in prison on 20 July on charges of "forgery of documents".

Journalists and activists from Germiyan spoke to Rojnews about the unlawfulness that Shêrwan Shêrwanî experienced.

Journalist Umer Tînu said that the Kurdistan Region Government's approach to freedom of expression and journalism is obstructive, and added: “Wrong attitudes towards journalists and activists are developed by the authorities. As a result of these wrong approaches, freedom of thought and expression in the region is declining more and more. This situation does not create a good perception in other countries.”

Evaluating the re-sentencing of Shêrwan Shêrwanî as unlawful, journalist Umer Tînu said: "The sentencing of Shêrwan Shêrwanî, despite the absence of any evidence against him, not only undermines the independence of the judiciary, but also shows that the court has a biased approach."

Civil activist Seryas Ibrahim said that the Kurdistan Regional Government created obstacles to freedom of thought and expression, and added: “In the previous cabinet, the people of South Kurdistan had little hope. However, this government not only fails to solve the problems of the people, but also hinders freedom of thought and expression. Government officials are trying to cover up the political and economic problems in the region by prosecuting journalists. However, the prevention of freedom of thought and expression makes the problems even more visible.”

Ibrahim said that many people may be unlawfully tried and punished in the future if no action is taken against these practices carried out by the government.