String of sentences served

Activist Guhdar Zebari released from prison

ERBIL – Guhdar Zebari has been released from the Great Reform Prison in Erbil, concluding his 3.5-year sentence.

Beshdar Hassan, Zebari’s attorney, said, “Activist Guhdar Zebari has completed his prison term at the Great Reform Prison in Erbil and has been released. He is en route to Dinarte with his family.”

Initially, Zebari faced three separate charges, leading to an initial six-year sentence under the 2003 Parliament Act’s Article 1 for “undermining internal security,” later reduced by 60% by the Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani. Additional sentences came, including five months for modifying his car’s logo and for possession of a rifle.

The cases of the ‘Badinan activists’ have drawn significant attention from international human rights organizations over the past four years, resulting in widespread criticism of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s record on free expression.

In 2020, several activists from the Dohuk province were arrested under various charges. On February 16, 2021, the Erbil Court sentenced Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Zebari, Shvan Saeed, Eyaz Karam, and Hariwan Issa to six years in prison each.

Additionally, four prisoners from the Shiladze prison are scheduled for release tomorrow.

Christian Peacemaker Teams and Amnesty International have expressed grave concerns about the fairness of the trials and the treatment of the Badinan activists. These organizations, along with other international responses have highlighted issues of freedom of expression and judicial independence in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The case of the Badinan activists, including Guhdar Zebari, underscores ongoing concerns about human rights and freedom of expression in the region.

The KRG denies the charges and convictions were politically motivated.