Sign these letters to urge the Kurdistan Regional Government to release Badal Barwary, Omed Barushky, Eyaz Karam, Guhdar Zebary, Shvan Saeed, and Hariwan Essa from prison, and to send them a note of encouragement.

Update: February 19, 2021

CPT-IK STATEMENT REGARDING THE SENTENCING OF INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS AND ACTIVISTS FROM BADINAN
***Court sentenced five independent journalists and activists from Badinan to six years in prison. Sherwan Sherwani speaks of having been tortured during the investigation process.***
 
Today, on 16 February 2021, after a nine-hour-long trial spread over two days, the criminal court in Erbil sentenced Sherwan Sherwani and two other independent journalists Eyaz Karam and Guhdar Zebari, as well as two civil rights activists: Shvan Saeed and Hariwan Essa to six-year prison terms for alleged espionage and preparation of violent anti-state activities. The evidence presented to the court were several personal conversations which may carry differing meanings, photos used in journalism work, and their communication with international organizations about violations of human rights in Iraqi Kurdistan.
 
During a short break in the trial, Sherwan, who was locked with the other four Badinan activists in a cage, told CPT members who were present at the trial that he was tortured. He asked to deliver his message to the civil society activists to “stay united and do as much as they can to put pressure on the KRG to bring justice for the Badinan prisoners.”
At the end of the trial Sherwan shouted: “The ruling political party is using the judge, court and legal powers to restrain the freedom of speech in Kurdistan.”
 
Sherwan’s words describe what CPT and others had observed during the trial. The lawyers of the security Council did not present any direct and reasonable evidence that would support any of the accusations made against the Badinan journalists and activists. Moreover, the political motivation to silence civil and human rights initiatives seems to be evident from the claim that communication with international human rights organization about civil rights and freedoms consists an act that undermines state unity or security.
 
Members of CPT-IK are deeply saddened with this process that targets fundamental civil rights and destroys lives of those who expose truth and stand against violence. We send our good thoughts to the Badinan journalists and activists and their families.
 
As an international human rights organization, CPT-IK calls on the Kurdistan Regional and Iraqi Governments, as well as the international state and non-state actors, to take a stance against this injustice and to ensure that during the trial of appeal the rule of law and independent legal process is respected.

__________________

On 21 August 2020, activists and journalists in Badinan, Iraqi Kurdistan, organized a demonstration urging the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to pay salaries for government employees, including teachers, who have not received their income for six months. The KRG responded to the demonstration by accusing the teachers and journalists of inciting violence against the government. The authorities arrested Badal Barwary, Omed Barushky, and nearly 45 other activists and journalists at the protest without any court arrest warrant.

On 22 October 2020, the journalists Eyaz Karam and Guhdar Zebary and civil society activists Shvan Saeed and Hariwan Essa were also arrested by authorities for bringing attention to the KRG’s corruption. Eyaz, Guhdar, Shvan, and Hariwan are also from the Badinan region like Badal Barwary and Omed Barushky.

Freedom of expression, including the act of demonstrating, continues to be criminalized in Iraqi Kurdistan, especially concerning demonstrations for government employee compensation. CPT is especially concerned about escalating assaults and incarceration of journalists and civil society activists in the Badinan region and the government’s criminalization of freedom of expression.

Many activists and journalists who organized demonstrations this year in Badinan were released on bail except for Badal Barwary, Omed Barushky, Eyaz Karam, Guhdar Zebary, Shvan Saeed, and Hariwan Essa.

The location where Badal Barwary, Omed Barushky, Eyaz Karam, Guhdar Zebary, Shvan Saeed, and Hariwan Essa are being held is unknown. On several occasions, their families tried to apply for their release on bail and urge the KRG to disclose their location, only to be denied by the court.

We urge the Kurdistan Regional Government to release Badal Barwary, Omed Barushky, Eyaz Karam, Guhdar Zebary, Shvan Saeed, and Hariwan Essa from prison immediately.

Join us. Stand in solidarity and sign a note of encouragement to Badal Barwary, Omed Barushky, Eyaz Karam, Guhdar Zebary, Shvan Saeed, and Hariwan Essa sign the petition calling for their freedom.

Profiles of the arrested

Eyaz Karam has been working as a journalist for 11 years. He was a reporter in Rojava for NRT at the height of the ISIS assault in Syria. He has also reported on Turkey’s cross-border bombings in the Kurdistan Region. Eyaz has been arrested 17 times because of his work and activism to bring awareness to corruption. Eyaz was last abducted on October 22. His current location is still unknown.

Guhdar Zebary is from Akre district in Duhok province. He started working as a journalist 10 years ago. He has been a reporter for both NRT and Speda TV. He has received multiple death threats for his work to expose corruption. On October 22 he was arrested and taken to an unknown location.

Shvan Saeed is a mullah and civil society activist. In 2018, Shvan was fired from his work because of his speeches during Friday prayers, where he called for justice in Iraqi Kurdistan and criticized the Kurdistan Regional Government. Shvan then became an activist and worked to advocate for justice and equity. He was arrested on August 18, 2020 for organizing a demonstration which brought attention to the KRG’s delay in payment of salaries for government employees. After Shvan was released from prison, he was assaulted and abducted by security forces on October 22. His current location is still unknown.

Hariwan Essa is a school teacher and civil society activist. After criticizing the Kurdistan Regional Government for its corruption and failure to pay salaries of government employees, Hariwan received numerous death threats and was arrested allegedly for his activism. On October 22, the ruling political parties’ security forces arrested Hariwan again. His current location is still unknown since his arrest.

Omed Barushky began working as a journalist two years ago. He has been arrested multiple times for organising demonstrations bringing attention to the KRG’s corruption. Omed was arrested on 21 August, 2020, at a demonstration with teachers and journalists urging the government to pay its employees’ unpaid salaries.

Badal Barwary has been a teacher for 24 years and a civil society activist for many years. Police arrested him while at a demonstration demanding his salary and all government employees’ salaries that have not been paid for over six months. His family applied for bail several times but were denied. Badal has been in prison since 21 August, 2020.

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Free Sherwan Sherwani

Sign these letters to urge the Kurdistan Regional Government to release Badal Barwary, Omed Barushky, Eyaz Karam, Guhdar Zebary, Shvan Saeed, and Hariwan Essa from prison, and to send them a note of encouragement.

Sign the letter. Add your name.

You will receive an automated email confirming that you signed the action. The information you provide will not be sold, rented or shared with third parties
Share on facebook
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On 21 August 2020, activists and journalists in Badinan, Iraqi Kurdistan, organized a demonstration urging the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to pay salaries for government employees, including teachers, who have not received their income for six months. The KRG responded to the demonstration by accusing the teachers and journalists of inciting violence against the government. The authorities arrested Badal Barwary, Omed Barushky, and nearly 45 other activists and journalists at the protest without any court arrest warrant.

On 22 October 2020, the journalists Eyaz Karam and Guhdar Zebary and civil society activists Shvan Saeed and Hariwan Essa were also arrested by authorities for bringing attention to the KRG’s corruption. Eyaz, Guhdar, Shvan, and Hariwan are also from the Badinan region like Badal Barwary and Omed Barushky.

Freedom of expression, including the act of demonstrating, continues to be criminalized in Iraqi Kurdistan, especially concerning demonstrations for government employee compensation. CPT is especially concerned about escalating assaults and incarceration of journalists and civil society activists in the Badinan region and the government’s criminalization of freedom of expression.

Many activists and journalists who organized demonstrations this year in Badinan were released on bail except for Badal Barwary, Omed Barushky, Eyaz Karam, Guhdar Zebary, Shvan Saeed, and Hariwan Essa.

The location where Badal Barwary, Omed Barushky, Eyaz Karam, Guhdar Zebary, Shvan Saeed, and Hariwan Essa are being held is unknown. On several occasions, their families tried to apply for their release on bail and urge the KRG to disclose their location, only to be denied by the court.

We urge the Kurdistan Regional Government to release Badal Barwary, Omed Barushky, Eyaz Karam, Guhdar Zebary, Shvan Saeed, and Hariwan Essa from prison immediately.

Join us. Stand in solidarity and sign a note of encouragement to Badal Barwary, Omed Barushky, Eyaz Karam, Guhdar Zebary, Shvan Saeed, and Hariwan Essa sign the petition calling for their freedom.

Profiles of the arrested

Eyaz Karam has been working as a journalist for 11 years. He was a reporter in Rojava for NRT at the height of the ISIS assault in Syria. He has also reported on Turkey’s cross-border bombings in the Kurdistan Region. Eyaz has been arrested 17 times because of his work and activism to bring awareness to corruption. Eyaz was last abducted on October 22. His current location is still unknown.

Guhdar Zebary is from Akre district in Duhok province. He started working as a journalist 10 years ago. He has been a reporter for both NRT and Speda TV. He has received multiple death threats for his work to expose corruption. On October 22 he was arrested and taken to an unknown location.

Shvan Saeed is a mullah and civil society activist. In 2018, Shvan was fired from his work because of his speeches during Friday prayers, where he called for justice in Iraqi Kurdistan and criticized the Kurdistan Regional Government. Shvan then became an activist and worked to advocate for justice and equity. He was arrested on August 18, 2020 for organizing a demonstration which brought attention to the KRG’s delay in payment of salaries for government employees. After Shvan was released from prison, he was assaulted and abducted by security forces on October 22. His current location is still unknown.

Hariwan Essa is a school teacher and civil society activist. After criticizing the Kurdistan Regional Government for its corruption and failure to pay salaries of government employees, Hariwan received numerous death threats and was arrested allegedly for his activism. On October 22, the ruling political parties’ security forces arrested Hariwan again. His current location is still unknown since his arrest.

Omed Barushky began working as a journalist two years ago. He has been arrested multiple times for organising demonstrations bringing attention to the KRG’s corruption. Omed was arrested on 21 August, 2020, at a demonstration with teachers and journalists urging the government to pay its employees’ unpaid salaries.

Badal Barwary has been a teacher for 24 years and a civil society activist for many years. Police arrested him while at a demonstration demanding his salary and all government employees’ salaries that have not been paid for over six months. His family applied for bail several times but were denied. Badal has been in prison since 21 August, 2020.

Free Sherwan Sherwani

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