Imprisoned Badinan activist’s daughter calls for father’s release

Banaz Shvan, the daughter of imprisoned activist Shvan Saeed speaks to NRT on May 13, 2021 (NRT Digital Media/Screenshot)

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SULAIMANI — In response to a video published by Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani in which he made phone calls on the first day of Eid al-Fitr to the children of Peshmerga killed in militant attacks, the daughter of imprisoned activist Shvan Saeed said on Thursday (May 13) that she wanted him to call her family as well so that she could ask him to release her father.

In the video, Barzani wished a happy Eid to the children and families of martyrs in the Kurdistan Region.

Banaz Shvan told NRT that her father and his co-defendants are not guilty and called for their immediate release.

Journalists Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Zebari, and Ayaz Karam and activists Shvan Saeed Omar and Hariwan Issa were arrested last autumn as part of a crackdown on protest organizers and journalists by the security forces in Duhok, which are affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

On May 6, the Kurdistan Region’s Court of Cassation in Erbil denied the appeal of the journalists and activists against their conviction in February for allegedly attempting to undermine the security of the state. They were each sentenced to six years in prison.

The trial and sentences have been widely criticized by human rights groups and press freedom watchdogs as symbolic of deteriorating freedom of expression and the press in the Kurdistan Region.

Shvan said that her only demand is the release of her father, as his absence has left a huge hole in her family's life.

(NRT Digital Media)