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KURDISTAN Fears raised over hunger-striking Badinan political prisoners in Iraqi Kurdistan

FEARS have been raised over the health of hunger-striking political prisoners in Iraqi Kurdistan who authorities are refusing to release despite their having served their sentences. 

The so-called Badinan activists include more than 80 journalists, trade unionists and campaigners detained for participation in protests demanding payment of salaries and an end to government corruption. 

Community Peacemakers Team Iraqi Kurdistan, who have monitored the court hearings of those detained, urged the Kurdistan Regional Government to release them immediately. 

Spokesman Kamaran Osman said the KRG public prosecutor prevented the Badinan prisoners and 42 other inmates from being released.

CPT said that all prisoners are on hunger strike and are demanding justice and for all political parties to cease interference in the judicial system.

The NGO said that as well as their freedom, the KRG should compensate the Badinan activists for the injustice they have faced. 

CPT said it was particularly concerned over the health of one of the prisoners detained in Shiladze last year, Amjad Youssef, and asked for assurances over his condition. 

The activists have been detained since August 2020 and were charged with espionage for foreign governments after a number had contact with the German and US consulates. 

Those jailed include teachers that have demanded the payment of public-sector salaries that are frequently withheld by the government for months on end and paid at a reduced rate. 

Amnesty warned of a “chilling crackdown” on journalists in Iraqi Kurdistan, accusing the government of silencing criticism.

The hearings have been dismissed as “show trials” by rights groups who said they did not adhere to global standards and breached international law. 

The Morning Star attended the trial of the only female Badinan activist, Berivan Hassan, in Erbil in February. 

She faced 15 years behind bars for handing out leaflets calling for a boycott of Turkey over its illegal invasion and occupation of large swathes of Iraqi Kurdistan.  

Her release was credited by observers and her legal team to the large international presence in the courtroom.

Those that have been released told the Morning Star of the appalling conditions they have been held in, alleging that they have been subjected to brutal torture, including electrocution. 

In a message from his prison cell journalist Sherwan Sherwani appealed for international solidarity and urged supporters to continue to fight for their freedom. 

Last weekend scores of parliamentarians, activists and journalists from the New Generation Movement were detained after mass protests were organised in a number of cities including Slemani. 

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