- Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
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Dear Dr. Zebari,
On April 28, 2021, the Court of Appeal [hereinafter the Court] upheld the six-year prison sentence against activists and journalists Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Zebari, Hariwan Issa, Ayaz Karam and Shvan Saeed. In its ruling, the Court rejected the defendants’ claims of torture and other ill-treatment, citing lack of evidence; while confirming the charges brought against the five activists and journalists, which include “receiving money from the consulates of the USA and of Germany”; “sending sensitive information to foreign entities” and “cooperating with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)”.
On February 16, 2021, the Erbil Criminal Court sentenced the five journalists and activists to six years in prison after a flagrantly unfair trial mired with serious allegations of torture and other ill-treatment and based on apparently trumped-up charges. Since their sentencing, the five activists and journalists had gone on hunger strike to protest their detention conditions. According to information available to Amnesty International, the five men are detained in overcrowded cells with no room to sleep, stand or walk. Throughout their detention, the five activists and journalists were forcibly disappeared, some for more than three months.
In light of the above, I urge you to immediately and unconditionally release Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Zebari, Hariwan Issa, Ayaz Karam and Shvan Saeed, immediately take all steps to ensure their unjust conviction is quashed or overturned, and ensure a prompt and effective investigation into the allegations of torture and other ill-treatment with a view to holding perpetrators accountable and providing redress to them. Pending their release, I further urge you to ensure they have access to qualified health professionals providing health care in compliance with medical ethics, including the principles of confidentiality, autonomy, and informed consent and unfettered access to their lawyers and family.