Mother-of-five detained by Kurdish authorities for over 16 months without trial
Sulaymaniyah (Iraqi Kurdistan Region) - The trial of Berivan Ayoub Hassan, a 35-year old community activist and mother of five children held without trial for over 16 months in the Iraqi Kurdistan region was adjourned on Monday for the second time to March 6. She is accused by the Kurdistan Region’s Security Council (KRSC) of unproven charges of “endangering the national security” on the back of anti-government protests in Dohuk 2020.
Since early 2020, security authorities in the semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq have detained hundreds of journalists, teachers, and civil society activists from Duhok and elsewhere following wide protests over unpaid salaries and strict coronavirus restrictions.
According to defendant lawyers and international NGOs Ayoub has been held without trial since her detention in October 2020, denied both access to her children and lawyers to challenge charges of “endangering” the KRI’s national security.
“The court did not let us to see the full charges against our client; the judge has granted us only ten minutes to read 100 pages of charges filed against her,” Bashdar Hassan, a lawyer defending Berivan told The New Arab in a phone call from the capital city of Erbil.
“She has been accused of being a member in a group at WhatsApp messaging application, the KRG authorities claim that the group was used to plan sabotage against the KRI’s national security.”
“The KRSC has no proofs for their accusations, and they basically depended on the narration of a secret informant. Moreover, the testimony of the KRSC’s witness is in favor of Berivan, as the witness has denied knowing her or seen her before," Hassan added.
“We are very concerned about the situation in which Berivan has been held in prison for almost sixteen months without trial, she was not allowed to meet with her lawyers for over a year; the defence lawyers representing her were not allowed to see the charges until just before the trial," Kamaran Othman, a member of the Community Peacemaker Teams - Iraqi Kurdistan (CPT) told the New Arab in a phone call.
The New Arab has contacted Jotyar Adil, the KRG’s spokesperson, and Dindar Zebari, the head of the KRG’s Office of the Coordinator for International Advocacy (OCIA), but both did not respond to media inquiry requests.
Although the KRG stresses that it respects the independence of the judiciary, Kurdish authorities have come under fire by the international human rights organizations, rebuking the KRG’s judiciary authority of abusing basic fair trial standards, and being compliant with high-level political interference.