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URGENT ACTION: United for Liberation Prisoner Defense Campaign

March 8, 2021

Write to your embassy or consulate in Iraqi Kurdistan and ask them to urge the Iraqi Kurdish government to guarantee Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Zebari, Eyaz Karam, Hariwan Essa, and Shivan Saeed a fair trial.

Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Zebari, Eyaz Karam, Hariwan Essa, and Shivan Saeed, journalists and civil rights activists from the Badinan Region of Iraqi Kurdistan, were sentenced to a six-year prison term. They were arrested six months ago, and claim the investigators tortured them during their detention. In an unfair trial on February 16, the Criminal Court of Erbil found them guilty on charges of “espionage” and “conspiracy to destabilize national security and stability.”

Members of Christian Peacemaker Teams observed the two-day-long trial and found out that the prosecution did not present any evidence to sustain the accusations. Additionally, the judge ruled that since several of the journalists and civil rights activists spoke to international organizations, the United Nations, and the United States Consulate General, about the current situation of human rights in Iraqi Kurdistan meant they were spies working for foreign governments.

The extremity of the sentence against the five and their families for defending human rights, exposing corruption, and taking part in peaceful protests create a dangerous precedent that targets the fundamentals of human rights, threatens independent journalism, and curbs the initiatives of Iraqi Kurdistan’s civil society.

The five Badinan journalists and activists are on a hunger strike awaiting a response to their appeal from the courts. Along with their families they are hopeful that justice will be on their side. At the same time, they are worried about interference in the appeals process by the same government officials who interfered at the trial on February 15 and 16.

Take action against this injustice.

Read Christian Peacemaker Teams’ latest report to learn more about the lack of due process during the Badinan journalist’s and civil rights activists’ trial.

Download

Write to your embassy or consulate in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Sending an email in your respective language to your embassy or consulate would be preferable. You can translate the sample letter below or write your own. If you prefer, you can use the sample letter.

Click on the country to auto-populate the sample email in your email client, or just copy and paste the email address and the sample letter below. The letter is editable.

Australia
nfo.baghdad@dfat.gov.au

Austria
erbil@advantageaustria.org

Canada
bghdd.consular@international.gc.ca

Colombia
cbeirut@cancilleria.gov.co

Czech Republic
consulate_erbil@mzv.cz

Delegation of the European Union to Iraq
delegation-iraq@eeas.europa.eu

France
cad.bagdad-amba@diplomatie.gouv.fr

Germany
info@arbi.diplo.de

India
hoc.baghdad@mea.gov.in

Italy
erbil.office@esteri.it

Netherlands
erb@minbuza.nl

Poland
erbilconsulate@msz.gov.pl

Romania
erbil@mae.ro

Sweden
erbil@swe-sectionoffice.se

United States of America
ErbilPublicAffairs@State.gov

Sample Letter

Send the following appeal letter to your embassy or consulate in Iraqi Kurdistan. You can write it your own words or use the model.

				
					Dear Honorable Ambassador, 

I am very concerned for the lives and the well-being of the five Iraqi Kurdish independent journalists and human rights defenders: Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Zebari, Eyaz Karam, Hariwan Essa, and Shivan Saeed, who were recently sentenced to a six-year prison term. During the unabashedly unfair trial, they were charged with committing "espionage" and "conspiracy to destabilize national security" of Iraqi Kurdistan. In a series of trumped-up charges, the court even ruled that speaking to international organizations and diplomatic missions about the current situation of human rights in Iraqi Kurdistan constitutes an act of espionage. This ruling is a severe threat to the future of freedom of the press and expression and the right of civil society to organize initiatives in the Kurdish Region of Iraq. Full Report of trial by Christian Peacemaker Teams: https://bit.ly/2OtUqZI

During the trial on February 15 and 16, the five imprisoned accused the interrogators of torturing and abusing them during their six-month detention. 

The five Badinan journalists and activists are on a hunger strike awaiting a response to their appeal from the courts. Along with their families they are hopeful that justice will be on their side. At the same time, they are worried about interference in the appeals process by the same government officials who interfered at the trial on February 15 and 16.

In light of this, I request you to contact the Iraqi Kurdish government to urge them to guarantee Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Zebari, Eyaz Karam, Hariwan Essa, and Shivan Saeed a fair trial. Please urge the Kurdistan Government to take concrete steps to end the criminalization of journalists and civil society activists. 

Thank you. 

				
			
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Further action: 

Sign Amnesty International’s letter asking for the release of the Badinan journalists and activists.

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