Tuesday, April 19, 2011

PUK and KDP forces attack protesters and arrest activists

 By: Shwan Zulal
Yesterday PUK (patriotic Union of Kurdistan) have burnt down Maidani Azadi(Sera Square) stands which protesters have been using as a platform to address the crowds in the last two months. According to health officials in Slemani, 99 people were admitted to hospital including security forces personnel, and at least 16 protesters have been treated for gunshot wounds.

The square was occupied by PUK security forces last night and they are still in charge of it. However, the protesters wants to go back and resume their protest.  A large number of forces loyal to PUK including police and antiterrorism force have been drafted to Slemani (Sulaimaniyah). The presences of the forces have crated clashes between protesters and the heavily armed militia.
Maidani Azadi Committee spokesperson, Nasik Qadir has told Awena newspaper that "protesters want to go back to the square today ... and we have been saying form the outset that we do not want the use of violence by anyone".
A Kurdish writer and activist, Rebin Hardi, have been arrested by the authorities while taking part in a protest in front of Slemani courthouse. Lvinpress has reported that he was roughly handled and beaten by his capturer's as well as being taken to undisclosed location. Ardalan Hardi the older brother of Rebin and the editor of Kurdish Aspect said “if anything happens to Rebin we hold Mr. Barham Salih’s government responsible for this indefensible action”. 
The security forces have set up checkpoints in and around Slemani city and are asking for ID, reported Hawlati.
The number of injuries is not yet clear but there are reports of at least four people being treated for gunshot wounds, furthermore, many of the injured are not being allowed to be taken to hospital by the security forces, reported Hawlati. Furthermore; reports of at least half a dozen journalist from Hawlati, Awena and other newspapers have been assaulted and arrested so far today, reported their newspapers.
There are conflicting reports about a number of students who have been due to take part in demonstrations in Sarchnar, in front of the court. The group mainly from Slemani University have set off in the morning to take part in the demo. Reports from all the media agencies in Kurdistan are saying that the women have been released and separated from the men, while the men have been taken to undisclosed location by PUK security forces.     
Situation in Slemani is very fluid as many reports of kidnapping, assault, arrest, shootings and Human Right violations committed by PUK security forces are coming in by the minute.
Protests and clashes have been reported in Rania, Kalar, Darbandixan, Koya and other towns and villages in Kurdistan as well as very heavy security presence in Erbil. The situation is very tense and there is no letup in the violence so far.