Journalists all over Kurdistan region are abused in all means; they are arrested, injured, and assassinated but my case is different. Because of my job as a journalist, I have been detained twice for about four months, for that may be my case is one of the unique cases among the other cases.
Working as a freelance journalist or in an independent media outlet or associated with opposition, is full of obstacles and problems in our area. I used to work for three years in KNN channel and in Goran Movement’s media in Shiladze sub-district of Amedi district in Dhouk Northern Province; also I was working for short periods for other media outlets, which were not preferable by the authorities. My job was annoying for the security forces. One day a number of Asayish (Kurdish security forces) came to my house and they told me they would like to talk with me. The moment I went out with them, I couldn’t see my home for 99 days.
On 20th of June 2020, mass demonstrations went out in Shiladze against the Turkish bombardment of the area. Like other young people in my area, I participated in the demonstration and used my camera to take pictures and record videos. I have sent it later on to one of the channels, because at that time KNN channel already stopped broadcasting.
It is true that the demonstrations were put down by force, and everything was fine with me till the 26th of that month. In that day and exactly at 10:00 am, four members of Asayish came to my house, two of them were putting ordinary clothes and the other two were dressing uniforms. I was in my bed at that moment. They woke me up and told me “Mamosta” is asking for you. They meant the director of Asayish, but I refused to go with them and told them where is arrest warrant. As I had previous experience with that, they insisted and sweared that the director will take only 10 minutes from my time and he will let me go.
I went there with one of my uncles; in Asayish station they separated us. The first thing they asked me was to hand them over my mobile phone. I told them clearly if you put me in a jail for ten years I am not going to give it to you or bring it to here, they went to my home and search it, but they couldn’t find it.
"The first thing they asked me was to hand them over my mobile phone. I told them clearly if you put me in a jail for ten years I am not going to give it to you."
They tried hard with me to hand over my mobile phone, when they knew that they will not get it, they blindfolded my eyes and started to beat me and put me in a car led me to unknown location. Later on, I discovered that this place is the general directorate of Asayish in Dhouk.
In my first day in Dhouk’s Asayish, they put me in a place without roof. I was exposed to the extreme heat and sun of June, after three days they moved me to solitary prison, after five days they took me to the investigation.
In the investigation room, I didn’t know who is investigating with me or what is exactly his job, because I was blind folded; he was yelling in angry voice and asking me: do you know why you have been arrested? I told him it is not related to drug dealing, robbery and working with PKK, for that I don’t know why? I mentioned these accusations because these are ready made accusations for arresting the journalists and activists in the area.
He told me you are here because you organized the demonstrations in Shiladze. For sure I refused the accusation, because it was not true. He was insisting that I was the organizer and that I had a plan to set fire to Kurdistan Democratic Party KDPs office, after 20 minutes they send me back to jail.
I stayed in my cell for 10 minutes, they took me a again to investigation, this time the charges has been changed. They told me that you took money from some people and use it to free others, off course this also was not true and they didn’t have any evidence proving that, for that I refused that accusation.
Later on the same person asked me to sign a document (a commitment letter) says that I am not going to participate in any activity and they will let me leave but I refused to put my signature on such a document.
"Later on, the same person asked me to sign a document (a commitment letter) says that I am not going to participate in any activity and they will let me leave but I refused to put my signature on such a document."
The person who was investigating with me was so upset with me, for that he called the others in unpleasant way to take me back to my cell. I stayed there for 28 days. After that, I have been transferred to another prison and spent the rest of my imprisonment in this way with other prisoners which their accusations were terror, affiliation to PKK and other different charges.
There were over seven persons in the prison cell I was detained. New detainees were coming in and others were leaving. I was kept there till the 5th of October 2020. I was released on bail for 10 million Iraqi Dinars ($8,000) up to the trail day.
As I said that was not the first time for me to be arrested. I was also in prison between 6-26th of January 2020 in Dhouk, and the accusation was trading with a political party. That was incorrect accusation.
When I was in prison, some lawyers volunteered to help me, but they left me under pressure.
Dhouk court decided to send me to the jail for three months in October (that was my sentence) depending on the accusations that I was accused of by the Asayish, but because I spent 20 days at first time in jail and 99 days at the second time without court arrest memorandum, they decided to account it as imprisonment period for me, and they released me.
In fact, I spent a month more than the court verdict; now the court owes me one month!
Till the moment of narrating the story of these violations, I am under censorship by the security forces directly and indirect way, not only me but also the people who are close to me. Whenever there is a potential for civil activities or gatherings in my area, I am subject to different kinds of accusations by the security forces.
Hemin Shiwan *is a pseudo name for this journalist; his name has been covered for the sake of his safety and upon his request.