Protests for Behdinan prisoners in South Kurdistan
The "Solidarity with Behdinan Prisoners" campaign has warned against the "erasure of fundamental rights" by the politicized judiciary during protests in South Kurdistan and called for decisive action for the imprisoned journalists and activists.
The "Solidarity with Behdinan Prisoners" campaign has warned against the "erasure of fundamental rights" by the politicized judiciary during protests in southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq) and called on human rights organizations, the opposition and the Iraqi president to take decisive action on behalf of the imprisoned journalists and activists from the Behdinan region. Representations of other states must also speak out clearly about the devastating human rights situation in the region in order to put more focus on the violations committed and deter further violations, the initiative said in a statement read out Monday at protests outside courthouses in Sulaymaniyah, Hewlêr (Erbil), Duhok, Germiyan, Chamchamal, Koye and Halabja.
There were larger rallies in Sulaymaniyah and Hewlêr. Many participants carried banners and signs with phrases such as "Release them all" and photos of the Behdinan prisoners. Four of them - Sherwan Taha, Masoud Ali, Kargar Abas and Bandawar Ayub - were supposed to go on trial today at a criminal court in the capital of the autonomous region. The four men have been in pre-trial detention for fourteen months now without access to legal counsel for their participation in anti-government protests, but hearings are repeatedly delayed. The Solidarity Campaign speaks of a deliberate "delay in proceedings" to wear down the prisoners and the denial of a fair trial.
Since September 6, at least 82 of the approximately 100 Behdinan prisoners have been on hunger strike to protest their detention, inhumane prison conditions, severe mistreatment and torture. According to their lawyers and relatives, the health of many of them is already more than critical. In the case of Sherwan Taha, Masoud Ali, Kargar Abas and Bandawar Ayub, the threshold of irreversible damage has been reached. The trial against them was postponed until October 20 because two judges were reportedly removed from the case.
"Although the health condition of Behdinan prisoners is dramatic, the injustice continues. Trials are postponed, and in other cases the charges are not even brought. It looks like our relatives are being left to certain death," said the campaign at the rally in Hewlêr. Politician Mzhda Mahmud, who sits in the South Kurdistan parliament for the New Generation movement, called it "immoral and unconscionable" that the Behdinan prisoners are not being released.