In recent days, the sentencing of five civil activists and journalists in the Kurdistan Region to six years in prison has sparked a wave of protests.
The five, who were arrested along with more than 45 others in August last year, were tried after six months in detention.
A court in Erbil sentenced Sherwan Sherwani, Ayaz Karam, Shvan Said,Guhdar Zebari and Hariwan Issa to six years in prison on charges of collusion against public security.
They were accused of acting against national security on the basis of membership in a messenger and information exchange group.
Anwar Karwan, head of the Journalists’ Syndicate in Sulaymaniyah, said in an interview with VOA that some of these people were arrested only for their emojis or likes and comments on Facebook!
Two days before the trial, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masroor Barzani said the detainees were spies and extremists.
The remarks angered civil society activists and lawyers because he had convicted them before the verdict.
Observers and civil activists believe that the conviction of activists and journalists in the Erbil court is a political verdict and calls into question the independence of the judiciary and endangers civil liberties.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the authorities of the Kurdistan Region to release these journalists and civil activists unconditionally.
Thirty-one members of the Kurdistan Parliament also objected to the court’s ruling, demanding that the clean court overturn the original ruling.
These deputies believe that the court’s decision is completely illegal and completely political.
The scale of the protests was such that even Nichirvan Barzani, the head of the region and Masrour Barzani’s cousin, broke the silence and demanded that the people’s trust in the Judiciary power not be strengthened.
The judiciary in the Kurdistan Region is currently facing a difficult test. Will it maintain its independence or become a lever in the hands of the government and the ruling parties to suppress the opposition?
my report on kmmk