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 Top Kurdish protests organizer arrested in Sulaimaniyah and go to jail for a month

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Top Kurdish protests organizer arrested in Sulaimaniyah and go to jail for a month  2.5.2011  







May 2, 2011

SULAIMANIYAH, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — A court in Sulaimaniyah, Kurdistan Region’s second largest city, has ordered the detention of one of the top leaders and organizers of the Sulaimaniyah protests that left 10 killed and hundreds injured.

Dr Faruq Rafiq, an intellectual and researcher in philosophical field, a member of the Temporary Council, for organizing demonstrations in Azadi Square, was arrested Monday by Kurdish security forces [Asayish] who will serve alone-month term in jail.

Rafiq, who was also a member of a temporary committee to represent the protesters, was an active speaker during the Sulaimaniyah protests where demonstrators in Azadi Square first called for political reforms but later complete government dissolution.

Faruq’s arrest come after the security service of Sulaimaniyah filed a lawsuit against him on charges of staging,
www.ekurd.netand participating in, unlicensed demonstrations.

Under a demo law passed by the parliament of Kurdistan Region last year, demonstrations and rallies have to be approved by the authorities before being staged.                       

Dr. Faruq Rafiq, a Canadian citizen, an intellectual and researcher in philosophical field, a member of the Temporary Council, for organizing demonstrations in Azadi Square was arrested Monday by Kurdish security forces [Asayish] who will serve alone-month term in jail.
The law however, has been criticized by the opposition forces and journalists saying it restricts freedom of demonstration because it gives the authorities the power to reject any demonstration that they don’t like.

Rafiq had announced earlier that he was not ready to pay a IQD200,000 (about US$180) bail and that he would go to jail for a month.

Rafiq’s attorney Karwan Kamal told AK news that Rafiq attended the court from where he was transferred to jail.

“Despite efforts to convince him to pay the bail instead of going to jail, but he refused” Kamal said.

For the past two months thousands of protesters are gathering daily in Sulaimaniyah and other parts of Kurdistan against corruption and the lording over Kurdistan region by two main parties KDP and PUK. Kurdish protestors demand the ouster of the local Kurdistan government KRG, calling for improving services and living conditions and fighting corruption. 

After 62 days of protests, the Governorate of of Sulaimaniyah has banned unlicensed demonstrations in the city. Heavy Kurdish forces deployed in the Sulaimaniyah city to prevent any demonstrations, and still occupying the city center and other parts of Sulaimaniyah.

Most of the demonstrators opposed Massoud Barzani, and the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP. Ten people were killed and more than 700 others wounded and 220 more have been arrested in clashes between demonstrators and Kurdish security forces during a wave or protests that swept Sulaimaniyah. The Kurdish security forces (Asayish) arrested and tortured a lot of activists and journalists.

The protesters demand the Kurdish government and parliament resign to give way for “early transparent elections”. They complain about “monopolizing the economic and political authority,” by the two major parties of Kurdistan. Many observe allegiance to either of the two ruling patties a must to get employed and hence were deprived of the right. Kurdistan suffers from electric power deficiency but after almost 20 years of semi autonomy.

For decades, the KDP of regional president Massoud Barzani and the PUK of Iraq's President Jalal Talabani have lorded over the region.

Massoud Barzani and his relatives control a large number of commercial enterprises in Kurdistan-Iraq, with a gross value of several billion US dollars. The family is routinely accused of corruption and nepotism by Kurdish media as well as international observers.

Iraq's Kurdish regional government has near total autonomy and is funded by a share of the country's oil revenue. The two parties that share power each command former guerrilla militias that have been given the status of regional security forces.

Earlier Massoud Barzani told an Italian newspaper that if 50,000 Kurdistan citizens require him to step down, he will. Afterwards, the opposition parties led a signature campaign and reportedly collected even more votes to oust the president. However, the fate of those signatures is still unclear.
  

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