Stop the whipping in Sulaimaniah

By the Federation of Civil Society Organizations:

Following the call for a demonstration at 5 pm on July 15th 2011, scores of various types of military, security, militia and polices forces were stationed at the heart of the city of Sulaimaniah. The center of the city was literally occupied by those forces, which without any legal, ethical or moral restraints, attacked people and established special locations for whipping activists and ordinary citizens.

The behaviors witnessed  were not different from those committed by the military forces of the Baath regime and are contrary to the internal and international laws and regulations. They are even contradictory to the law of demonstration in the Kurdistan region.

A member of the Federation of Civil Society Organizations was observing the developments closely and he witnessed the arrest and torture of Rehman Gharib, the director of Metro Center to Defend Journalists. He was taken to an unknown place by the security forces at the time that a member of our federation was threatened by a person from the security forces. When requesting an explanation for these inhumane behaviors the response was that “we are coming from the villages and will not show the slightest degree of mercy”. This response in itself intentionally defames the village dwellers and discredits the security forces.

The security forces established an official whipping location and hid it by a blue veil. The location was between the famous ‘People’ café and Suliamaniah library. A person passing by could easily hear the sounds of slapping and kicking, and the crying of people being tortured. Scores of security forces wearing civilian clothes were seen arresting people and taking them to that narrow alley were the torture was underway. We overheard a young policeman who was advising the youth not to get into trouble because. if they were arrested, they would be killed by the security forces.

Journalists were not allowed to cover the incident. A number of journalists, and many ordinary citizens who were recording the developments using their cell phones, were arrested. A member of the Christian Peacekeeping Teams was arrested, and released later by the police.

All of these violations are against the law and basic principles of human rights. We in the Federation of Civil Society Organizations strongly condemn these behaviors and call on the government and parliament of Kurdistan to conduct an urgent investigation into these worrying developments. The authority which was torturing people on the streets of Sulaimaniah was not, to us, a national Kurdish authority, but one which is plagued with a hysterical fear of its own people. At the same time that we express our extreme concern, we call on the Public Prosecution to sue the heads of the security, police and the militia force stationed in the city in order to decrease the possibility of similar incidents in the future.

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