Watchdog warns of health condition of detainees on hunger strike in Erbil

The activists are accused of undermining national security and spying for U.S., UK, Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — A watchdog warned of health condition of activists and journalists detained in Duhok last year, saying “their hunger strike has entered a dangerous phase”.

More than 80 activists and journalists have gone on hunger strike in Erbil detention centers, the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in the Kurdistan Region said last week.

The Kurdish security forces detained dozens of journalists and activists in Duhok last year over espionage and allegedly undermining national security in the Kurdistan Region.

In February, Erbil Criminal Court sentenced journalists Shirwan Sherwani and Guhdar Zebari and Ayaz Karam as well as activists Shvan Omer and Hariwan Issa to six years in jail on national security charges.

Their lawyers presented appeals twice to the court of appellate, but they were rejected.

In a statement, the committee of rights and freedoms in Kurdistan and Europe said 82 journalists and activists had been on hunger strike for over 12 days.

“Their condition is at risk now,” the committee said on Saturday.

“The health condition of journalist Ayaz Karam who is one of the Badinan detainees has been deteriorated and he has lost consciousness,” it added.

Seventy-seven out of 82 detainees have been held in detention centers of the general directorate of Asayish in Erbil without been tried for over a year.

Trials of a dozen activists have been postponed in the past months due to various reasons, including changes in the head and judges of the court.

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