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Badal Barwari sends message from jail to embassies, human rights organizations

Critical voices being forcibly silenced in the governorate
Activist and Teacher Badal Barwari (File)
2020-09-18

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SULAIMANI — More than a month after being arrested for the second time this year, teacher and activist Badal Barwari on Thursday (September 17) sent a message from prison in Duhok, calling on diplomats and international human rights organizations to speak out against the ongoing crackdown on critical voices in the governorate.

Head of the Voluntary Lawyers Network in Duhok Khatab Omar told NRT Digital Media that he had been permitted to visit Barwari at the Great Zirka Correctional Prison and that Barwari asked him to communicate his message publicly.

The teacher told Khatab that his condition is fine, but that he was concerned about how his case was being handled and questioned whether proper legal procedures are being followed.

“Barwari called on the foreign embassies and international human rights organizations to pressure the Kurdistan Regional Government so it does not try to silence people,” he said.

“We have asked for his release for the second time, but our request was refused. Barwari will have another hearing on September 22,” Khatab said.

Barwari organized a protest in Duhok’s Azadi Park on May 16 to protest the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) decision to delay payments to public servants. He was arrested the night before the protest and held by the security forces for a month.

The protest itself was broken up by the local security forces, which are affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and approximately 100 others arrested as well.

Following attempts to stage further protests in August, which were prevented by the authorities, Barwari was arrested again on August 18 and charged with violating the Communications Device Misuse Law and encouraging protests.

Khatab confirmed that arrested activist Dilshad Goharzi is also at Great Zirka Correctional Prison and was able to meet with his family two days ago.

During the summer, many journalists and activists who were arrested during the crackdown were prevented from sending out messages or receiving visitors, including NRT reporter Ahmad Zakhoy, who was held without charge for more than a week.

Journalist Omed Baroshki is also being held at the same facility as Barwari, Khatab said.

Baroshki was bailed out on September 13 after spending 26 days in custody only to be rearrested five hours later.

“It is not clear to us under what charges he has been detained again,” Khatab added regarding the detained journalist.

(NRT Digital Media)