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 30 years in prison for writing articles criticized KDP and Massoud Barzani  

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30 years in prison for writing articles criticized KDP and Massoud Barzani  20.12.2005
By Charles Chapman

 




 
Dr Kamal Said Qadir, Austrian citizen, an international legal expert, writer and human rights activist

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, 20
05

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 Barzani tribe.

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 Government.

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 World War.

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    

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