The people of Bashur strongly support the Behdinan activists
The death fast carried out by some of the Behdinan activists arrested by the KDP hit the agenda of South Kurdistan people once again.
Five journalists and human rights activists from Behdinan, who were sentenced to 6 years by the KDP judiciary, went on death fast. Despite all the anti-democratic practices and pressures, the death fast is receiving great support from the people.
After being detained and arrested in August 2020 in the Behdinan region, 5 journalists and human rights activists from the same region were sentenced to 6 years each on 16 February 2021 by Hewlêr 3rd Criminal Court for alleged spying and being PKK members. The Federal Kurdistan Supreme Court Penal Board upheld this unlawful sentence given to activists Şerwan Emin Şerwanî, Gohdar Muhammed, Ayaz Kerîm, Harîwan Îsa and Şivan Said on 20 June 2021, despite the public opinion protests.
Review past traumas
With this decision, the Penal Board of the Supreme Court of Appeals not only showed that the cases of extrajudicial executions during the 30-year period of pressure and intimidation policies of the BAAS regime continued, but also caused controversy. Such practices revived past traumas in people's memory. Many intellectuals, writers, politicians and artists from South Kurdistan compare the current situation to the times of the BAAS regime.
It is said that there are nearly 100 civil society activists in prisons in Bashur (South) Kurdistan. The news that a group of 21 people, including a lawyer and a lecturer, went on a death fast, in addition to the group known as the "Behdinan journalists", has had a deep impact on society. In a statement made through their lawyers, the prisoners announced that they were constantly kept in a ward varying between 130-150, that they could not use their right to communicate with family and lawyers and that the reason for going on a death fast was not to improve prison conditions but to be released immediately. They denied the accusations made against them, saying that they were "totally unfounded and untrue".
Resistance will continue
These young people are accused, among other things, of "gathering information for the PKK about security organizations and prisons and providing coordination". The activists, who rejected the allegations against them, said that they would continue to resist by protesting the 6-year sentence given to them. The ruling was protested by both the international community and some civil society organizations and opposition parties in the region.
Reverting the ruling does not seem possible through the court at this stage. For this reason, the demand and expectation of the people of Behdinan is that this political decision taken by a court should be cancelled as soon as possible. Society wants the existing legal system to be democratized by adapting it to universal norms in line with the needs of the times. It is difficult to make the desired reforms in an environment where demands for rights and laws are not met and people are worried about freedom and security.
More determined fight needed
The problem of freedom is not just the problem of the people of Behdinan and its activists. For this, more organized civil society support and a determined people's struggle are needed.
The repression policies implemented in South Kurdistan are the result of a dominant political understanding. Seeing people as a potential danger causes irreparable damage to the people.
The situation that emerged at the trial of the Behdinan group on 6 September was a total outburst of anger.
Şerwan Emin Şerwanî's family said: “Our house has been used as a base by KDP cadres for years. All the men in our family, up to Sherwan, have been peshmerga for years. Would this be the reward for this effort and sacrifice?"
Since 2020, there has been increasing pressure on journalists and activists from Behdinan. The people here are experiencing very serious financial difficulties due to their living standards. For example, it is known that the people of the region, who are already poor, have become even poorer as a result of the fact that employees have not been able to receive their salaries for more than a year.
Using the PKK to divert attention from real problems
Anyone who tries to protest the political and economic pressures in the region with marches and demonstrations is arrested and accused of being a PKK member. This is a strategy. In Turkey, everyone who fights for democracy is arrested and accused of being a PKK member. This is a strategy to intimidate the opposition. If the regional administration was to follow a policy and strategy based on persuading the people instead, it will be more fruitful and profitable. In the last year, hundreds of people lost their hope for change as a result of increasing pressure and violence in the region and eventually decided that the only solution was to flee abroad.
Manipulation of the KDP media
While all this is going on in the region, the approach of some media outlets that terrorizes the democratic struggle of those people who are experiencing serious financial difficulties because they don’t receive their salaries, is extremely sad in terms of press ethics. Manipulating the people's struggle against poverty, accusing them of being pro-Kurdish Freedom Movement supporters and judging them for this is futile. Everyone who struggles for rights and freedom in the eyes of these people and circles is the defender of the Freedom Movement.
The Kurdish Freedom Movement is a consciousness of freedom and struggle. Every person promoting the idea of 'freedom', which is the greatest common value of humanity, is a potential member and supporter of the freedom movement. For this, the statements of those arrested and their alleged crimes should be made public. Why is it not disclosed?
People strongly support activists in prison
The news that some of the Behdinan activists, 76 of whom are being held in Hewlêr General Public Security Center, went on death fast, put the just struggle of the activists on top of the agenda of the people of South Kurdistan.
Despite all the anti-democratic practices and pressures, the death fast of these activists received strong people public support. In particular, significant support came from the Goran and Neweya Nû parties in the Federal Kurdistan Parliament. The biggest expectation is that the press and broadcasting organizations take sides with rights and freedoms, or rather the people's just struggle and freedom of expression. In this case, regardless of their ideas and actions, the rights violations suffered by these activists can be published and they can thus be released.