Ranya protest group calls on PUK to release of detainees, form technocratic local government

Giving authorities 72-hour deadline
FILE: Demonstrators gather in Ranya on Friday 14, 2020 (NRT Digital Media, Screenshot/FILE)

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SULAIMANI — A group representing protesters in Sulaimani governorate’s Ranya district said on Thursday (August 27) that the Asayish forces affiliated with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) have detained approximately 50 activists without valid court orders.

The group gave the party’s leadership and political bureau and the Asayish in the Raparin administration a 72-hour deadline to release the protesters unconditionally.

They also called on the local government to step down and be replaced with technocrats and for more women to take over in senior posts.

“We will not be responsible for any reaction or the disruption of the city’s security,” read the statement.

Protests broke out in the lakeside city on August 12 and continued for a week of consecutive nights. Since then, demonstrations have become more sporadic. During the protests, there were several clashes with the security forces and some demonstrators were arrested.

Frustration with deteriorating economic conditions and the government’s failure to pay public sector salaries in full and on time are largely fueling the demonstrations, along with longstanding calls for improved public services and more job opportunities.

With notable exceptions in Ranya, Halabja, Qaladze, and Kalar, demonstrations in PUK-controlled areas have largely passed off without incident, but the security forces have been much more heavy-handed in governorates dominated by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

On August 23, an activist group of public servants called on the local authorities in Erbil to release nearly 50 people who had been arrested in the Kurdistan Region’s capital the previous day while trying to attend a planned protest near the main bazaar.

Two days later, a group of activists in Duhok governorate released an open letter calling for the immediate release of 145 people arrested there and alleging that some of them had been abused while in custody.

NRT reporter in Duhok Ahmad Zakhoy was arrested on August 20 by the Asayish in Zakho town and his whereabouts are unknown. The same day he was taken into custody, the security forces closed down NRT’s Duhok and Erbil offices.

(NRT Digital Media)