ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report accused the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of detaining protestors in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region.
The organization mentions that on March 4 the KRG security and police forces in Erbil arrested 32 unarmed protestors who were demonstrating against recent clashes in the Ezidi-populated city of Sinjar (Shingal) area.
According to HRW, 23 protestors were released on the same day and three more four days after. However, the report claims that six more protesters who are believed to be foreign nationals are still in detention.
On March 3, clashes erupted between two Kurdish armed forces Roj Peshmerga and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) armed wings in Khanasor town of Shingal. The clashes resulted in casualties on both sides.
Erbil police stated that the protestors had been arrested based on court decisions and their release will depend on the court too.
“KRG authorities appear to be detaining protesters for no good reason,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “They are also using threats and retaliation to discourage future protests, undermining freedom of expression and assembly in the Kurdish region.”
HRW also highlights the detention of over 40 members of the Kurdish National Council (ENKS) by the PKK-affiliated Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) security forces in Syrian Kurdistan which started one day before the planned Erbil protest.
Tensions have risen between the affiliates of the PKK groups and Peshmerga forces, especially after the clashes in Khanasor. The tension has also circulated on social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Editing by Ava Homa