Seven activists in custody in Sulaimani province over Facebook comments

An official filed a lawsuit against 28 journalists and activists in Darbandikhan town in Sulaimani province

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Seven activists have been taken into custody in Sulaimani province over a lawsuit filed by an official against dozens of people for writing comments on Facebook.

Esta Media Network reporter said the director of health in Darbandikhan had filed a lawsuit against 28 persons including activists and journalists who criticized the transfer of a doctor to another town in comments on Facebook.

Nine activists were testified in front of a judge on Monday, the reporter said. Two of them were released on bail while the others were taken into custody.

Some of the activists said they criticized the transfer of a doctor who specializes in woman’s health on May 19 from Darbandikhan to Said Sadiq town.

Civil activist Farman Abdulrahman said people started to react to the transfer of the doctor after a group of activists protested against it.

The lawsuit was filed in accordance with law on prevention of misuse of communication devices in the Kurdistan Region.

According to the law, the activists could be jailed between six months and five years, and be fined five million dinars ($3,423 USD).

In a statement, the directorate of health in Darbandikhan accused some sites and fake pages of launching a “disloyal and baseless” campaign against the health director, paving the way for people to “write comments and use inappropriate words among thousands of nice words and constructive criticism”.

“Dozens of inappropriate comments and words, which are far from the human and social values, as well as insults and intervening in our personal life have been written,” it added.

“So, it is our legal and personal rights to defend ourselves and our personal lives, and we see law as lawyer of ourselves and others.”

Metro Center for Journalists’ Rights and Advocacy has called on the health director to withdraw his lawsuit against the journalists and activists, saying the health sector in the Region “is filled with inadequacy and should be monitored”.

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