Lashes for freedom of speech

In the vaunted model "kurdistan" there is talk of torture, incarceration and execution

So far, the kurdish part of iraq has a reputation for being more democratic than the rest of the country. Two more recent events, however, shed a different light on freedom of expression and freedom of the press in the "kurdistan model".

Last sunday, according to reuters news agency, journalist kamal said qadir was sentenced to one and a half years in prison – for criticizing kurdish leader barzani, head of the KDP (kurdistan democratic party). According to the human rights organization amnesty international, qadir, who holds austrian nationality, had accused the KDP leadership of bribery and abuse of power in two articles published on the internet last year. In december, he was subsequently summoned to court on flimsy pretext and sentenced to 30 (!) sentenced to years in prison, although qadir was able to present evidence for his accusations.

However, the sentence was revoked by a higher court, and the rescheduled trial last sunday in erbil settled for the lenient sentence: 18 months imprisonment.

According to the austrian newspaper "der standard", qadir has meanwhile lodged an appeal. In a statement of the austrian branch of reporters without borders it says:

We are very vigilant against the iraqi kurdish judicial system that first sentences a lawyer to 30 years in prison and then divides the sentence by 20 while the charges remain the same

In addition, it is unclear whether the court in erbil has jurisdiction at all. Qadir had published the "insulting" articles in austria, according to his lawyer. Qadir is not an isolated case, says the standard. The security service of the KDP was "torturing, incarcerating and executing" politically disagreeable people in northern iraq. Thus, "communists, western-oriented kurds, christians or pacifists were held in security prisons in northern iraq for more than a year without charge or trial". Political opponents were presented to the red cross or american officers as "islamic fundamentalists"" be paraded. Barzani’s son masrur is said to be in charge of the inaccessible interrogation centers.

On the other hand, it seems that islamic fundamentalists also have some power in iraqi kurdistan. In his book "sex, sharia and women in the history of islam," mariwan halabjayee wanted to trace the historical oppression of women in islam "kurdish salman rushdie" has had to flee to sweden, where he intends to ask for political asylum.

Halabjayee is the subject of an arrest warrant ied by the suleimania police and a fatwa ied by the "islamic league of kurdistan" is said to threaten his life:

A few weeks ago, mullahs and scholars in halabja told me to turn myself in to them to apologize. They would then give me 80 lashes and refer me to a fatwa committee who would decide whether I should be beheaded. Maybe they will forgive me, but maybe not.

Mariwan halabjayee

Halabjayee preferred to hide with his pregnant wife and three children until he managed to escape with the help of a PUK (patriotic union of kurdistan) member. The kurdish regional government denied him any help. In response to protests, the minister responsible for religious affairs, muhammad gaznayi, said that according to the "laws of iraqi kurdistan, defamation or criticism of religion or religious figures is a crime and the punishment is severe. We will punish all those who attack our prophet in such a way that it will be a lesson for everyone."