By Mufid Abdulla:
In the eyes of most Sulaymani residents, Zana Hama Salih’s death in custody is highly suspicious. The mayor was visited by his wife, who was with him until Saturday afternoon. She thought he was in a good mood and he told her that he expected to be released the next day. A few hours later, however, she had a phone call informing her that her husband had hanged himself. This tragedy has touched many hearts.
Zana’s death is a product of Sulaymani’s institutional corruption and mafia-style administration. People are asking: what if the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) ran the whole of Kurdistan? What would that look like?
The leadership of the PUK has shown no embarrassment but instead calls for the setting up of committees to investigate the case. For the rest of us this is a macabre joke: we all know what the result would be.
Zana was born in 1975 into a middle class family on the outskirts of Sulaymani. After graduating from Erbil University law school in 1996, he married and fathered two daughters and one son. Zana’s political allegiance stemmed from the fate of his older brother who died as a PUK fighter. Zana’s ability and hard work caught the attention of the party leadership which encouraged him to take on administrative positions. Regrettably they drew him into their web of corruption – although Zana’s lawyer insists that there is no evidence of wrongdoing against him.
Zana’s wife told KNN last night that she has logged a court order against all those she holds responsible for killing her husband. His brother has given the PUK two weeks to provide a satisfactory explanation for his death.
Gorran MP Sherzad Hafiz has inspected Zana’s prison cell in Sulaymani. He told Awena newspaper that he does not believe Zana hanged himself. The local security department told the MP that Zana committed suicide with a piece of wire 20 cm long. However, many people have dismissed this claim as absurd.
As we reported, Jalal Talabani had privately expressed his opposition to Zana’s arrest. Observers believe that Zana’s detention reflected the PUK’s internal power struggle and that it is deeply suspicious that he was kept in solitary confinement in a security jail rather than handed over to the police prior to a trial.
KRG interior minister Karim Sanjari visited Sulaymani to look into the matter but says he is unable to reach any conclusion.
Sulaymani has been plunged into a crisis even deeper than last year. There is widespread distress and many are scared for their lives. People are saying that this should not happen in this day and age and in a so-called democracy. They are saying that they are the victims, caught in the grip of rival gangs who will stop at nothing to protect their power and stolen billions.
Insulting the intelligence of the people, the PUK leadership stills wants us to believe that Zana killed himself and was not executed by their ‘godfathers’.
However there is a perfect response to this tragedy: the people must demand immediate national and local elections.