Open Letter To President Masoud Barzani On The Closure Of The Kurdish Women’s Relation Office (REPAK) In Erbil


By Peace in Kurdistan-Women Alliance:

We, the undersigned call upon you to exercise your executive authority to permit the Kurdish Women’s Relation Office (REPAK) in Erbil to reopen in order to continue its legitimate activities which are entirely in accord with the law. On 5 May 2016 the REPAK premises in the city were raided and closed by the Asayish Security Forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Staff were detained, their identity papers and mobile telephones were taken from them. They were bundled into security vehicles to be driven and expelled outside the city and told that they would not be allowed to return. The REPAK offices remain closed. No explanation was offered for these alarming actions. This measure is totally undemocratic and without any legal basis whatever. It obstructs the vital work needed to support Kurdish women in the Middle East.

Kurdish women have been in the forefront of championing women’s rights throughout the Middle East. They have established political and cultural representative organisations in the different parts of Kurdistan and have confronted some of the worst vestiges of patriarchal repression that have blighted women’s lives across the region. In their endeavours Kurdish women have received valuable support from REPAK. The organisation has operated perfectly legally in Erbil as a NGO since March 2014 offering support for different Kurdish women’s organisations and raising awareness internationally of the inspiring efforts of Kurdish women to improve their lives and that of their communities. REPAK has served as a valuable point of contact for women’s delegations from around the world which have been visiting Kurdistan in attempts to find out more about Kurdish women and the progress they have been making.

REPAK regularly participates in international conferences and its staff members have served the World Women’s Conference. The office successfully publicised the brutal atrocities committed against Yezidi women at Sinjar/Shengal by Islamic State (IS), and reported on the heroic resistance against IS of the people of Kobane in Rojava, northern Syria. It is profoundly troubling that REPAK’s commitment to women across all the Kurdish areas should result in its criminalisation, censorship and closure. This action is totally deplorable and unjustified.

We strongly urge your government to immediately reconsider this action against REPAK and that you join with the people and organisations in Britain and around the world who desperately want to see an end to the repression and suffering of Kurdish women: the REPAK offices must be reopened.

Supported by

Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)
Estella Schmid, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
Melanie Gingell, barrister
Christine Blower, NUT International Secretary
Rahila Gupta, writer and journalist
Victoria Brittain, writer and journalist
Liz Saville-Roberts MP
Jill Evans MEP
Gareth Peirce, lawyer
Amata Morgan, journalist
Prof Mary Davis
Prof Penny Green
Margaret Owen, Director of Widows for Peace Through Democracy
Cynthia Cockburn, researcher and writer
Natalie Csengeri, Vice-Chair of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
Sarah Parker, Haringey UNITY
Lindsey German, Convenor Stop the War Coalition
Martha Jean Baker, Women International League for Peace and Freedom
Aysegul Erdogan, Islinton councillor
Elif Sarican, Kurdish Students Union UK
Suna Parlak, women’s rights activist and journalist
Jo Magpie, writer, journalist
Ala Hassan, BA International Relations
Ali Kanea, journalist and activist
Theresa Webb, UNISON
Jan Jananayagam, Tamils Against Genocide
Val Swain, PhD Candidate and Associate Tutor at University of East Anglia
Suna Alan, singer and journalist
Debbie Bookchin, writer and journalist
Bruce Kent
Lord Rea
Lord Dholakia
Nick HIldyard, policy adviser
Dr Derek Wall, International Coordinator of the Green Party
Mark Thomas, author and journalist
Joe Ryan, Chair of Westminster Diocese Justice and Peace Commission
David Morgan, journalist
Stephen Smellie Deputy Convenor UNISON, Scotland
Trevor Rawnsley, journalist
Ali Has, solicitor-advocate
Zaher Arif, activist and writer
Alastair Lyon, lawyer
Indian Workers Association UK
Raghu Jayantiya,, Social Scientist and Activist
John Hunt, journalist
Arian Mufid, Editor, Kurdistan Tribune

Peace in Kurdistan – Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question


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