Dr Kamal Said Qadir, Austrian citizen, an
international legal expert, writer and human rights
Court in Erbil, Iraqi
Kurdistan, had sentenced Dr. Kamal Sayd Qadir to 30
years in prison.
Kurdistan Regional Government endangering freedom
of speech for Kurds in North Kurdistan?
December 20, 2005
On Monday December 19, 2005, media reported, that a
court in Erbil (Hawler), Iraqi Kurdistan, had
sentenced Dr. Kamal Sayd Qadir to 30 years in prison
for the "crimes," allegedly based on the law of the
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), of "disgracing
the Kurdish leadership and their struggle,"
"inappropriate articles," and swearing at the
Dr. Qadir is allegedly being held by the Kurdistan
Democratic Party (KDP) for writing articles critical
of KDP officials, including KDP leader Massoud
Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Regional
Dr. Qadir, aged 48, was allegedly arrested on
October 26 by members of Parastin, the security
intelligence service of the KDP, because of articles
he had published on the Internet in the weeks prior
to his return to Iraqi Kurdistan. He has been
detained incommunicado in Iraqi Kurdistan ever
since. On December 17, 2005, The Kurdistani reported
that Ihsan Nuri, the Minister of Human Rights of the
Kurdistan Regional Government, told Dr. Qadir's
sister that "Dr. Kamal Sayd Qadir must stay in
prison and rot there."
This comes at a critical time when Turkey is
deciding the limitations on freedom of speech for
its residents, including by necessary implication
its Kurdish residents. As reported by The
Independent and the Mail and Guardian, in Turkey the
trial of one of the world's leading novelists, Orhan
Pamuk, was adjourned for seven weeks on December 9,
2005 when the judge said the prosecution could not
proceed until it had been approved by the Ministry
of Justice. Mr. Pamuk was accused of "denigrating
Turkishness" for stating that 30,000 people have
died in Turkey's Kurdish conflict and that a million
Armenians were killed in Turkey during the First
Leaving aside the issue of freedom of speech in
Iraqi Kurdistan, an additional, critical, issue is
whether the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is
endangering freedom of speech for Kurds in Turkey by
sentencing Dr. Qadir to imprisonment for the "crime"
of criticizing Barzani and the KDP. By prosecuting
Dr. Qadir for the crime of "disgracing the Kurdish
leadership," the KRG is arguably providing "cover"
to Turkey to prosecute its own citizens, including
Kurds, for criticizing the government of Turkey.
How can the Iraqi Kurdistan credibly argue that
Kurds in Turkey have a right to freedom of speech
when its own citizens do not have that right?
How can the KRG expect Turkey to afford its Kurdish
residents greater rights than the KRG gives to its
own citizens? If a Kurd in Turkey is prosecuted,
like Mr. Pamuk, for "denigrating Turkishness" for
stating that 30,000 people have died in Turkey's
Kurdish conflict, how can the KRG complain?
One can only hope that Dr. Qadir's conviction is
overturned on appeal. Not only for the freedom,
safety and security of the citizens of Iraqi
Kurdistan, but also for the freedom, safety and
security of Kurds in Turkey, and elsewhere.
Charles Chapman -The Is-Ought Problem