Call for Behdinan prisoners on hunger strike who face death if denied release
“The Behdinan prisoners have been on hunger strike for nearly 20 days and their health has deteriorated. Their dead bodies may come out of prison in a week,” said activists and lawyers in front of the Sulaymaniyah Courthouse, demanding their release.
A group of activists and lawyers gathered in front of the Sulaymaniyah Court and demanded the immediate release of the Behdinan prisoners.
Hêmin Mihemed read out a press statement on behalf of the families of the prisoners and the activists, saying, “After Şêrwan Şêrwani and his friends, all the prisoners from Behdinan were sentenced thanks to Masrour Barzani's decision and an unfair trial. They are not released even though their sentences are over. They have been carrying out a hunger strike for about 20 days. Because of extreme heat, our friends are suffering from kidney failure and will lose their sight.”
Their health condition is very bad, warned Mihemed and cited the prisoners as saying, “'Next week, our dead bodies may come out of the prison. If the situation continues like this, we will all be dead.”
“If something unfortunate happens to our friends, the government will be responsible. We call on political parties to take a serious stance. We also ask religious scholars to deliver special sermons for the prisoners from Behdinan,” Mihemed added.
Lawyer Karzan Fazıl gave information about the prisoners' files: “According to Law No. 23, prisoners have the right to be released on parole. As their lawyers, we call on the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General's Office and all officials to uphold the laws and work for the release of our clients.”
On 22 July, 52 prisoners from Behdinan, jailed in Hewler (Erbil) in southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq), went on a hunger strike demanding their conditional release in accordance with Article 331 of the Penal Code, which is a legal right but denied to them by the prosecutor.
The prisoners started the protest after a court in Hewler had ruled for their release on the first day of the Feast of Sacrifice, but the release was postponed without any justification.
In a letter to the UN, representatives of the states and public opinion regarding the violations they have been exposed to, the prisoners stated that, “We are deprived of any human, legal and democratic right for all to see. We were sentenced because we demanded to be granted our rights and freedom of thought. Some of us have been sentenced for opposing the invasion and bombing of our country. The government, on the other hand, is now crying crocodile tears for the victims of the Turkish bombardment.”