Duhok activists in jail for 21 days, one of them taken to unknown place

17-02-2019 10:51
Some of the detainees from the city of Duhok

Peregraf - Aza Ibrahim

Today, three detainees from the city of Duhok have been released; 16 activists still remain in prison. One of them, a prominent critic, was isolated from the other detainees and his relatives do not know of his actual whereabouts.

They were among the scores of activists who had been locked behind bars during a vast operation by the security forces 21 days go. The security operation followed the Shiladze protest. Security forces targeted the activists who attempted to proceed with a gathering in support of Shiladze protests and against Turkish airstrikes in the Kurdistan Region.

Ahmed Yousf, a member of the volunteer lawyers of the detainees, reveals that upon their request, the court has revised the files of three detainees and they have been released on bail. 

The lawyer told Peregraf: “16 protesters and activists are still in jail due to last month’s protest according to the Iraqi Penal Code of 156.”

The 156 law has been suspended according to a Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) law in 2003, and instead, an article is used for sabotage, to which the punitive measure is “temporary or permanent detention”.

The lawyer also elaborates that two of the detainees are in Zirka Prison in Duhok, “The other 13 have been sent to Deralok in the town of Amedi. But one of the detainees named Sherwan Sherwani is in none of these prisons.” He added that today they visited Zirka prison but they didn’t see Sherwani, “We were told Sherwani has been sent to the General Security (Asayish) in Duhok.”

Sherwan Sherwani is one of the few critics in the Bahdinan area. Moments before his arrest, he had sent a voice message to his brother saying “I’m at the Duhok’s check point, I might be arrested.” About his last message, Sherwani’s wife told Peregraf: “Just one minute before his arrest, he sent this voice message rapidly and with a different voice to his brother.”

Sherwan Sherwani

Rugash Ezadin, Shewani’s wife, also states that she has not been able to see her husband since he was arrested, “Only Sherwani’s brother could see him on the 7th of February 2019 when he was in Zirka Prison.”

“At midday, the day on which he was arrested, he played for a while with the children after having had lunch. He told me that his friends in Duhok were going to stage a protest, condemning the Shiladze events, ‘I have to go and will be back at night.’ Before he left he hugged the children and told me take care of myself.” 

Despite having not seen him for ten days, Sherwani’s wife says that they have information which indicates that from the 13th of this month, her husband was taken from Zirka Prison to an unknown place, “Some say to Duhok Asayish, but we do not know anything about him. There’s a possibility that another legal case has been opened for him; taking him to another place without us knowing, leaves us with ambiguities.”

The detainees are mainly those who showed their frustration on social media and on the streets towards Turkish airstrikes and the presence of Turkish Army bases on the Kurdistan’s territory. Previously, Peregraf revealed that some of the activists had been arrested at the check points, Duhok Bazaar, while others had been apprehended at their homes.

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) faces a lot of criticism due to the massive arrest of Duhok activists. Several local organizations have requested their release, but there has been no response from the KRG officials.

In Shiladze demonstrators set a Turkish military base on fire 26th January 2019

Shiladze residents, in Amedi district of Duhok, carried out a protest march on the 26th of January, setting a Turkish military base close to the town on fire. One of the teenage protesters was killed after Turkish armed forces opened fire against them. Ten more were wounded. This act made the protesters even more frustrated.

On the 23rd of January, a series of Turkish airstrikes in the Kurdistan Region killed four civilians and caused two to go missing, which sparked the Shiladze protests.

Turkish airstrikes have always been condemned by the people of the Kurdistan Region. The parliament has repeatedly appealed for this to come to an end, but they continue to bomb the border areas of the Kurdistan region on the pretext of the presence of Turkey's Kurdish rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants.