PUK co-leader: courts must punish killers of protesters

From the left: Ako Salman (22) and Shivan Mahmoud Shukur (21)

Layla Ahmad

The families of the two young men who were killed in Kifri request the co-leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Lahur Talabani, to hand over the shooter to the police.

The request was made when Lahur Talabani visited the families of the slain men to “convey condolences” on 16 December.

Aso Salman, a brother of one of the slain men (Ako), told KirkukNow: “Lahur sheikh-Jangi [Talabani] visited us for convey his condolences and reassure us, but we requested him to handover the killers of my brother to the court for lawful punishment so that the blood of the martyrs of the demonstrations – who were killed for the sake of public interests – does not go in vain.”

22-year-old Ako Salman was killed during a protest on 7 December. His family filed a legal complaint against the PUK branch in Kifri and one man has so far been arrested.

Kifri, December 2020 – PUK co-leader Lahur Talabani visiting the family of slain protester Shivan Mahmoud – photo: Lahur Talabani’s Facebook page.

“Only one person has been arrested and the others walk free, that’s why we told the PUK co-leader that killers must receive their punishment, and he said that they will not accept it if they are not punished and asked everyone to await the court and the law,” Aso said.

Aso added they will wait out the promises from Talabani, and that they will take other measures if they are not fulfilled.

Three days after the killing of Ask, another young man, 21-year-old Shivan Muhammad Shukur, was shot dead. His family also filed a legal complaint against members of the PUK.

Muhammad Shukur, the father of Shivan, told KirkukNow: “Lahur sheikh-Jangi visited us and said that he would do whatever we asked for. Our only request was to take the killers of my son to the court, provided they are taken to a civil court, not a military court.”

“Lahur sheikh-Jangi gave a promise and said, ‘be reassured that the killers will be taken to court and receive their punishment in accordance with the law, and the court must do its job.”

Shukur said that they will wait for Talabani’s promises to be fulfilled, “because we believe him.”

Kifri, December 2020 – armed forces used to disperse protesters – photo: KirkukNow

9 people were killed and 60 were wounded in protests in several towns in the Kurdistan Region in the first two weeks of December, according to official numbers from the Kurdistan Regional Government.

In a statement on his personal Facebook page, Lahur Talabani wrote: “We shared the opinion that the events must be thoroughly investigated.”

“Some opportunist individuals and factions have redirected the rightful demonstrations of our teachers, employees, and others who were asking the government to provide their salaries and to solve their problems and to pass this stage, which unfortunately resulted in casualties, and a number of our youth’s blood was shed,” that statement reads.

“We reject accusations that a foreign hand was behind the demonstrations, in order to coverup their false policies [sic],” Talabani says in the statement, alluding to claims made by some KRG politicians.

On 2 December demonstrations started in Slémani City and subsequently in other Kurdish towns and cities in the province and beyond in the following days. Protests turned into riots after a crackdown by security forces.

The reasons behind these protests are the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) failure to pay civil servants’ salaries, poor living conditions, lack of job opportunities and inadequate basic services.

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