Two-years-prison for Duhok prisoner

Berivan Hassan was sentenced two years in prison following 17 months of pre-trial detention.

By Farman Sadiq in Erbil

A court of Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR has found a civic activist, out of tens of Duhok prisoners, guilty and sentenced her of two-years-in-prison for terror charges on Sunday, March 6th, following 17-months of detention, member of volunteer team said in a press conference in front of Erbil court.

Erbil criminal court two has tried Berivan Ayoub for charges of “disturbing national security” upon a lawsuit filed by the Asayish, IKR security forces.

“We are not satisfied with court verdict because the charges were bases and have not been proven,” said Bashdar hassan, lawyer, in a press conference attended by KirkukNow reporter.

“She was not arrested carrying a gun in order to attack Turkish diplomats, businessmen or consulate or a political party as court charges state. She was arrested holding her cell phone,” he added.

“The only proof was an informant who never appeared at court even today.”

Hassan earlier told KirkukNow the only witnessed questioned by court on February 28th session denied any contacts with Ayoub or having any information about her.

Another prisoner, Abdulmutalib Ramadan, a Kurd from Iran, was tried per same charges and faces same sentence.

Badinan detainees, few of them tried and freed up today, are victims of a wave of arrests carried out by the Asayish since June 2020 in response to a series of major protests against delay in salaries of state employees, the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG handling of the economic crisis resulting from disputes with Baghdad over oil production, export and corruption, and reached its peak under the Covid-19 pandemic.

The charges are based on Law 21 approved by parliament of Kurdistan, Iraq, in 2003 which revoked item 156 of Iraq penal code stating that "any one purposefully in any means involved in an action that harms security, stability and sovereignty Iraqi Kurdistan region's institutions and causes damage will face life imprisonment or short-term imprisonment."

Saddam Hussein regime used to repress opponents per this law especially the key opposition Kurdish parties of Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK, currently leading the KRG.

Hassan was reluctant to appeal the verdict.

“In the case of Sherwan Sherwani, we suffered to death so we are afraid to take any further step.”

Nechirvan Barzani, Iraqi Kurdistan Region President IKRP, have decided to punish one of Badinan detainees included in a presidential decree on February 22nd for reduction of sentence by 60% by reducing his sentence only 50% following his comments of defiance.

In June 2021, the penal panel two of Iraqi Kurdistan Appellate Court in Erbil has issued its final verdict unanimously, confirming February court ruling of six-years-in-prison for freelance journalists Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Mohammed Zebari, and civil society activists Ayaz Karam, Hariwan Essa & Shivan Sa'id for “"spying and attempts of coup d'eta and disorder.”

Ayoub was arrested on October 13, 2020.

“According to the period she has spent in prison, she is supposed to be released on April 14th based on conditional release per which nine months is considered one year,” Hassan added.

The independent commission for human rights in Kurdistan region recorded arrest of 300 people from August to October 2020 for "organization of protests and disorder mainly in Duhok northern province. More than 50 are still in prison.  

The KRG has sent over 50 activists and journalists to court in 2020 and 2021 and some of the cases are still pending at court awaiting trial.

Iraq team of Christian Peacemaker Teams, CPT, an international organization set up to support teams of peace workers in conflict areas around the world, was closely monitoring the trials.

Following the decree, CPT said in a statement on February 25th, “Despite our pleasure for presidential decree of Feb. 22 to reduce imprisonment for 5 of Badinan activists and journalists, we were expecting their immediate release and compensation.”

“Up today, 19 of Duhok prisoners have been tried, 16 freed following 1 year of detention, five activists have not been charged yet though in prison for 14 months. CPT Iraq team calls for drop of charges, immediate release of activists arrested between Aug. 8, 20 to Feb. 11, 2021.”

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