Iraqi-Kurdish artist jailed for six months after 30 seconds-long 'protest' music clip
A court in the Iraqi Kurdistan region has jailed a Kurdish artist for a 30 seconds music clip highlighting the case of activists from Duhok province who have been detained for taking part in anti-local government protests, lawyers told The New Arab.
Blind Amedi was sentenced to six months in prison for the protest song, in a case that has been marked by judicial irregularities.
His defence team said Amedi was jailed for breaking Article 2 of the Iraqi-Kurdish region's law on the misuse of communication tools.
"A Duhok court has sentenced Kurdish artist Blind Amedi to six months in prison after he published a 30-second music and poetry video in support of imprisoned activists from Duhok," Bashdar Hassan, a Kurdish lawyer defending the imprisoned activists, exclusively told TNA via audio messages.
"The court did not let Blind Amedi hire a lawyer and the court tasked a trainee lawyer to defend him... The trial was held secretly, and we knew it after he was sentenced."
A separate Kurdish lawyer - speaking on condition of anonymity to TNA due to the threat of reprisals from the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) - confirmed the sentence against the artist.
In another bizarre twist in the case, the court told Ahmedi's family there was no need to hire a lawyer as one would be provided for him by authorities.
Duhok court has sentenced singer Blind Amedi to six months in prison after a 30-second music video in support of imprisoned activists, many who have been in prison for over two years over trumped up charges. pic.twitter.com/1z0AroqFIe— Kurdistan Watch (@KurdistanWatch) December 19, 2022
Hundreds of teachers, activists, and journalists - mainly from the Badinan area of Duhok province and elsewhere - were arrested by KRG security forces after a series of anti-government protests over unpaid salaries and poor public services in 2019 and 2020.
Journalists Sherwan Amin Sherwani and Guhdar Zebari, and activists Shvan Saeed, Ayaz Karam, Hariwan Issa were all sentenced to six years in prison in February 2021, serving time in Erbil adult-reform prison.
In June 2021, a court in Erbil upheld the six-year sentences against the group.
As per a decree by the Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani, the sentence of Sherwani was reduced by 50 percent, while those of the other four were reduced by 60 percent.
Hassan confirmed that four of the five inmates will be released in mid-March 2023 after they finish their reduced jail terms.
Masrour Barzani, the KRG prime minister, a week prior to the ruling, claimed in a press conference that those in prison were "neither activists nor journalists" and that "some of them were spies".