Jul 28, 2011

Search for Freedom: Ahmed Hussein& Suheila Rashid


Search for Freedom: Ahmed and Suheila
By David Hovde

Ahmed Hussein Sharif and Suheila Rashid Rahman both came from families that actively worked for Kurdish rights in Iran. Their fathers were friends and Ahmed's sister married Suheila's cousin. Ahmed often visited Suheila's family and when he asked her father if he could marry Suheila, her father did not refuse. They married in 1999. As a couple they worked for the rights of Kurds, women, children and the environment. They did not support any parties that used violence. They believed in equality between men and women and cared for women affected by violence.

The Iranian authorities arrested Ahmed in 2003 when Suheila was pregnant with their first son. In prison, the authorities tried to get him to confess that he was part of a Kurdish party that used violence against the government. He would not. They released him after forty days. In 2005 they arrested him again. They released him after taking him to the intelligence office.

After their son, Karo, was born, Ahmed spent much time with him for three and a half years. Then in 2007 soldiers came to the house to arrest Ahmed again. Because of the trauma Karo experienced seeing the soldiers arrest his father, he could not speak for a long time. In prison, the guards tortured Ahmed daily. No one could visit him, or even knew where he was. Later, he got out on $50,000 bail.

One day in 2009 the family went to visit Suheila's sister. While they were away, the authorities broke into their house, destroying everything, even digging up the garden. They found nothing. A few days later, while Suheila and Karo were away at another sister's, many soldiers came to the house and arrested Ahmed. Suheila came home immediately then went to stay with her parents. She was heartbroken that Karo would have to start school while his father was in prison.

Jul 26, 2011

Search for Freedom: Shahram Wahab Bolouri

Search for Freedom: Shahram Wahab Bolouri
by Zach Selekman

In 2009, Shahram Wahab Bolouri joined the Green Movement protests in Tehran, Iran. Already subject to discrimination as a Kurd, Shahram had refused to join the army after secondary school and therefore the Iranian Government refused to allow him to go to university, get a government-funded job, get a passport or buy a car. Having kept in touch with his friends in the university, he got involved in politics as they did. Despite warnings from Ayatollah Khameini that protesters would be taking their lives in their hands, he joined the week before elections took place. Shahram took photos and videos of the protests and sent them to websites to be published. He also spoke to people from Iran who were living outside of the country to update them on the situation.

The day or day after the June 12, 2009 elections, Shahram received strange calls to his cell phone, asking for someone whom Shahram did not know. Later that night at 2am, the same number called his landline phone but would not respond to Shahram’s answer. The same caller called several more times. Then someone rang up to Shahram’s family’s apartment, saying that they were neighborhood guards and that a thief was in the apartment and they were coming to arrest him. Shahram told them that they were okay but the supposed guards came up anyway. Shahram suspected that the people at the door were after him. Shahram attempted to hide in the bathroom while his father answered the door to a large number of plain-clothed government forces. They handcuffed Shahram and confiscated videos from his room and the hard drive from his computer.

Jul 24, 2011

بەڕاستی قسەكردن لەگەڵا دەسەڵات لە كوردستانی عێراق نووسینی: دەیڤد هۆڤد

From People-Iraq
بەڕاستی قسەكردن لەگەڵا دەسەڵات لە كوردستانی عێراق
نووسینی: دەیڤد هۆڤد
اسماعیل عبدالله وەك شوفێر كاری بۆ لێپرسراوێكی خانەنشینكراوی حكوومەت لەشاری سلێمانی دەكرد. لە (17/2/2011)دا، خەڵكی دەستیان بە خۆپیشاندانكرد لە سەرای ئازادی شارەكەدا دژ بەو گەندەڵییەی كە لەناو هەردوو حیزبی دەسەڵاتداری ناو حكومەتی هەرێمی كوردستاندا هەیە. لەڕۆژانی یەكەمی خۆپیشاندانەكاندا، هێزەكانی ئاسایش هەرزەكارێكیان كوشت‌و بەهەڕەمەكی تەقەیان بەناو خۆپیشاندەراندا دەكرد. رێكخەرانی خۆپیشاندانەكان لە سەكۆكەوە بانگەوازیان بۆ ئازادی‌و دادپەروەری دەكرد. شانبەشانی هەزارانی دیكە، اسماعیل بەشێوەیەكی رۆژانە سەردانی سەرای ئازادی دەكرد.
اسماعیل وەك خۆبەخشێك لە خۆپیشاندانەكاندا بەشداربوو. لەسەكۆكەوە ووتاری دەخوێندەوە‌و بووە یەكیك لەوانەی كە رۆژانە لە سەكۆكەوە لێدوانی دەدا. اسماعیل بەردەوامبوو لە كاركردن، بەڵام هەڕەشەیەكی زۆری لێدەكرا. دەسەڵات مووچەكەی بڕی. پاشان یەكێك لەگەورە لێپرسراوانی حكوومەت پەیوەندیی پێوەدەكات‌و داوای لێدەكات كە واز لە لێدواندان بهێنێت لەسەكۆكەوە‌و بەڵێنی پێدانی شوقەیەكی نوێی پێدا ئەگەر بێت‌و وازبهێنێت. وەڵامی اسماعیل ئەوەبوو كە ئەو خۆی‌و بیروباوەڕەكانی نافرۆشێت. اسماعیل ئەو پەیوەندییە تەلەفۆنیەی تۆماركردوە‌و لەسەر سەكۆكە بۆ ئامادەبووانی لێدایەوە. هەروەها ئەو تۆمارەی بە تەلەفزیونە ناوخۆییەكان دا بۆ ئەوەی پەخشی بكەن.
لە (9/4)دا هێزەكانی ئاسایش كۆتاییان بە خۆپیشاندانەكان هێنا. گازی فرمێسكرژیان دژ بە خۆپیشاندەران بەكارهێنا‌و دواجار سەكۆكەیان سووتاند. اسماعیلیش خۆی شاردەوە. كاتێك گوێبیستی ئەوەبوو كە گفتوگۆ لەنێوان هەردوو حیزبی دەسەڵاتدار‌و ئۆپۆزسیۆن هەیە وایدەزانی كە بارودۆخەكە گونجاو‌و ئارامە بۆ ئەوەی خۆی دەربخاتەوە. وپێدەچوو كە دەسەڵاتداران گەیشتبێتنە ئەو بڕوایەی كە گوێ‌ بۆ ئەو كەسانە هەڵبوێرێ‌ كە داوای گۆڕان دەكەن.
لەئێوارەیەكی درنگی (26/5) اسماعیل چوو بۆ سوپەرماركتێك لەگەڵا هەندێك لە برادەرەكانی. لەگەڵا گەڕانەوەی بۆ ناو ئۆتۆمۆبێلەكەی، دوو ئۆتۆمۆبێلی دیكە پێشیان لێگرت‌و هەشت كەسی دەمامكدار دابارین بەسەریدا‌و چاوبەستیانكرد‌و بۆ ناوی یەكێك لە ئۆتۆمۆبێلەكان بەلێدان بە قۆناغی تفەنگەكانیان راینكێشا. ئۆتۆمۆبێلەكەیان بۆ ماوەی (30) خوولەك لێخوڕی‌و پاشان وەستان‌و اسماعیلیان فڕێدایە خوارەوە. اسماعیل دووچاری لێدان بە كێبڵا لە هەردوو قاچیدا‌و بەقۆناغە تفەنگ لەدەمووچاویدا. یەكێكیان تەلەفۆنێكی بۆ دەكرێت‌و پاشان بەوانەی دیكە دەڵێت "مەیكوژن. تەنها نیشانەیەك بخەنە سەر دەمووچاوی بۆ ئەوەی بزانرێت كە لێدانی خواردوە."
لەو كاتەدا یەكێكیان دەمامكەكەی لەسەر دەمووچاوی لابرد‌و یەكێكی دیكەیان بەتفەنگەكەی لووتی اسماعیلی لە سێ‌ لاوە شكاند. بەچەقۆ قۆڵا‌و پشتیان زامداركرد. پاشان پێیان ووت "ئەگەر بێت‌و ئەمجارە بەشداری خۆپیشاندان بكەیتەوە ئەوا دەتتۆپێنین." اسماعیلیش وەڵامیان دەداتەوەو دەڵێت "ئەگەر ئێستا خۆپیشاندان هەبوایە، ئەوا دەم‌ودەست بەشداریم تێدادەكرد." یەكێكیان پەنجەی اسماعیلی شكاند‌و اسماعیلیش لەهۆش خۆی چوو.
اسماعیلیان خستە ناو ئۆتۆمۆبێلێكەوەو لەدووری (25 كم) لە شارەوە فرێیاندا. اسماعیل بەپێ‌ بەرەو شار گەڕایەوە. ئۆتۆمۆبێلەكان بەلایدا تێپەڕدەبوون بەڵام هەڵیان نەدەگرت بەهۆی بوونی خوێن بەسەر جەستەیەوە. اسماعیل بەپێ‌ گەڕایەوە بەرەو شار‌و پاشان لەدوكانێكەوە تەلەفۆنی بۆ خێزانەكەی كرد.لەو كاتەی لەچاوەڕوانیدابوو، شۆفێری تەكسییەك ناسییەوەو بردی بۆ نەخۆشخانە. ئەندامانی خێزانەكەی‌و هاوڕێكان‌و رۆژنامەنووسان هەموو لەچواردەوری كۆبوونەوە لەكاتێكدا پزیشكەكانی سەرقاڵی چارەسەركردنی بوون.
پاش مانگێك تەندروستی اسماعیل باشتربوو. نەشتەرگەرییەكی بۆ ئەنجامدرا بۆ ئەوەی ئێسكی لووتی بۆ چاكبكەنەوە. لێپرسراوانی حكوومی‌و كۆمەڵایەتی‌و هێزەكانی ئاسایش قسەیان لەگەڵدا كرد‌و دڵنیایان كردەوە كە لێكۆڵینەوەكان بۆ دەستنیشانكردنی رفێنەرەكانی بەردەوام دەبێت. اسماعیل دەڵێت "یان ئەوەتا نازانن كێ‌ ئەم كارەی كردوە یان درۆ دەكەن. خەڵكی بەئاشتییەوە هاتە سەرشەقامەكان، بەڵام هێزەكانی حكوومەت بە توندوتیژی وەڵامیاندایەوە. نامانەوێت وەك سوریامان لێبێت. ئێمە توندوتیژی‌و شەڕی ناوخۆمان ناوێت."

Post Demonstration: Speaking Truth to Power in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Speaking Truth to Power in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq
by David Hovde


Ismail Abdulla worked as a driver for a retired leader in the government in the city of Sulaimaniya. On February 17, 2011, people began to demonstrate in Azadi Square in the city, against corruption in the ruling parties in the Kurdistan Regional Government. In the first days of the demonstrations, the security forces killed a teenager and at times shot randomly into the crowd. The organizers from the stage spoke of freedom and justice. Along with thousands of others, Ismail came daily to the square.

Ismail volunteered at the demonstrations. He started speaking from the stage, and became one of the daily speakers. He continued working, but started to receive many threats. The government cut his salary. A high government official called him and asked him to stop speaking from the stage, offering him a new apartment if he obliged. Ismail said he would not sell himself or his beliefs. He recorded the phone conversation and played it from the stage. He also gave the recording to a local TV station.

By April 19, the security forces ended the demonstrations. They used tear gas on the crowds, and burned down the stage. Ismail went into hiding. When he heard that the two rulings parties were talking to the opposition groups, he thought it was safe to come out. It seemed the authorities might be finally paying attention to those calling for change.

Late in the evening on May 26, Ismail went to the supermarket with some friends. As he returned to his car, two cars pulled up in front of it. Eight men in ski masks came out of the cars and put a mask on him. They put him in one of the cars as they beat him with the butts of their guns. They drove for about 30 minutes, stopped, and made Ismail get out. They beat him with cables on his legs, and the butt of a gun on his face. One of them got a phone call, then said, “Don’t kill him. Just put a sign on his face that he was beaten.” At that point, one of them took off his mask, while another used his gun to break Ismail’s nose in three places. They cut him with knives in his arms and back. They said, “If you ever get involved in demonstrations again, we’ll kill you.” Ismail said, “If there was a demonstration right now, I’d do it again.” One of them took his finger and broke it. Ismail lost consciousness.

They put him in a car, drove him about 25km outside the city, and dumped him. He walked toward the city. Cars passed him by when the drivers saw the blood on him. He walked all the way into the city, then used a phone in a store to call a family member. While he waited, a taxi driver recognized him and drove him toward the hospital. They met up with his family. Friends and journalists gathered round him, as the doctors helped him.

A month later, Ismail’s health is improving. He has had surgery to fix the bones in his nose. Leaders in government, society, and security forces talked with him, ensuring him the investigation for his abductors with continue. Ismail says they either do not know who did it, or they are lying. “The people come out on the streets peacefully,” Ismail says. “The (government) forces come out with violence. We don’t want to become like Syria. We don’t want violence and civil war.”

Jul 18, 2011

Post Demonstration: Stop the Whipping in Sulaimaniah

Stop the Whipping in Sulaimaniah
The Federation of Civil Society Organizations
July 16th 2011

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 today, 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 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 and 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, kicking, and 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, to be released later by the police.

All of these violations are against the law and basic principles of human right. 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 time that we express our extreme worrisome, 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.

The Federation of Civil Society Organizations
15 NGO and a group of activist in Sulaimanyah
15/07/2011