KRG must put an end to ongoing crackdown of protests: Amnesty

Amnesty says Kurdish security forces detained more than 100 individuals in Duhok province between March 2020 and April 2021.

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Amnesty International on Tuesday urged the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to put an end to an ongoing crackdown of protests by “way of arbitrary arrests and harassment”.

Amnesty released a report on “arbitrary arrest, detention and enforced disappearance” in the Kurdistan Region, saying the security forces had detained more than 100 individuals in Duhok province between March 2020 and April 2021.

It further said most of the detainees were released shortly after, but at least 30 remain in detention.

Amnesty documented cases of 14 individuals including three journalists and 11 civil society and political activists from Badinan area, northwest of Duhok, who were detained by security and intelligence forces between August and October 2020.

It added that Asayish (security) and Parastin (intelligence) forces had “arbitrary arrested, detained, and in six cases, disappeared, individuals, in connection to their participation in protests, criticism of local authorities or to their journalist work”.

“All 14 individuals were held incommunicado for periods ranging between a few days to five months; six were subjected to enforced disappearance – a crime under international law, for periods of time ranging between 10 days to over three months,” Amnesty said.

It stated that three of the 14 individuals were released but went into hiding for fear of renewed reprisals and another went into hiding after receiving threats.

“Five remained in detention without charge or known charges; and five individuals were sentenced to six years in prison following an unfair trial,” it said.

It also documented four instances of harassment or intimidation of family members of the individuals in detention or hiding, including by arrest and verbal threats.

“Amnesty International considers that the arbitrary arrest, detention, enforced disappearance, prosecution and threat of prosecution has installed an atmosphere of fear amongst journalists and activists in the KR-I, specifically in Duhok,” the report said.

Amnesty called on the KRG to immediately release the detainees, including those who were sentenced following “unfair trials”.

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