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Stockholm - Skyline International for Human Rights demands the authorities in Iraq's Kurdistan Region to stop their attacks and violations against activists and journalists who have been detained for years. It stresses the importance of releasing all detainees and allowing them to enjoy their basic rights guaranteed by international law.

In a statement issued today, Monday, Skyline states that the Kurdish authorities launched a campaign in August 2020, during which they arrested more than 80 activists, journalists, and demonstrators, following protests in the "Bahdinan" area in Dohuk Governorate, which falls under the influence of the Democratic Party led by "Masoud Barzani."

"Skyline" explains that Kurdish authorities later released dozens of them, while others were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to six year before the region's presidency later decided to reduce the sentences, while seven of them are awaiting the execution of their sentences.

In this regard, Skyline notes that human rights activists and representatives of detainees expressed concern about the authorities' treatment of detainees and activists. The representative of the "Bahidnan detainees", Ihan Saeed, said in a statement that "there is a unilateral interference in the affairs of the judiciary and adult prisons in Erbil"

He added: "We are very suspicious about the way the prison administration treat the detainees and suspect that there has been a dark plan and bioterrorism in recent days, especially against the detainee (Shirwan Sherwani). We have notified the concerned local and international agencies and hold the government and the administrative and security agencies of the prison responsible for the case that the prisoners have been harmed."

He pointes out that "the duration of the sentence of the convicts exceeded the time limit established in the court decision and the decision of the Praesidium of the Region to reduce the sentence by 60 percent, taking into account Law No. 32 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and in relation to conditional release in Article 331"

The region, ruled by the two parties, the "Democratic" led by "Masoud Barzani" and the "National Union" led by "Pavel Talabani", has been suffering from political and economic crises since 2014, due to the faltering of its agreements with the federal government in Baghdad, in light of the decline in global oil prices. This has led to a deficit in the payment of public sector employees' salaries and a decline in services.

​Skyline points out that this decline, along with the escalation of corruption in government and administration, prompted dozens of activists and influencers to take to the streets more than once to express their disapproval and opposition to the region's administration. This prompted the authorities on more than one occasion to respond to these demonstrations by attacking them, arresting their organizers, and prosecuting their most prominent leaders without following due process.

Accordingly, "Skyline" confirms that the continued behavior of the Iraqi Kurdish authorities towards activists, journalists and freedom of expression seriously violates the rights set forth in national laws and many international agreements guaranteeing freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and freedom of journalistic work, first and foremost the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Skyline concludes its statement by calling on the authorities of the Kurdistan Region to immediately and unconditionally release activists, journalists, and all political prisoners. Skyline also calls on the authorities to work to ensure that individuals and activists can exercise their fundamental rights, which include freedom of opinion and expression, and assemble peacefully without restriction or persecution and work towards the realization of their demands, rather than persecute them and use unjustified violence against them.