If a writer was jailed for 30 years for exposing government corruption in Iran or Syria, there would be outrage in the US and Britain and demands for military strikes. But when that happens in Iraq there is silence.
George Bush and Tony Blair constantly boast that they have brought freedom and democracy to Iraq.
Yet Kamal Sayid Qadir, a leading Kurdish academic, has been jailed for 30 years after he publicly criticised Massoud Barzani, head of the US backed Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP). The KDP is one of two parties that rule Iraqi Kurdistan.
The self rule areas have been held up as a model of post-Saddam Iraq.
Qadir was kidnapped in October 2005 by members of Parastin, the security forces belonging to the KDP. Qadir, 48, an Iraqi Kurd who lives in Vienna, was on a visit to Kurdistan when he was seized.
Qadir is a leading critic of the corruption and nepotism that has become a feature of daily life in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Late last year he wrote, “Kurdish parties have transformed Iraqi Kurdistan into a fortress for oppression, theft of public funds and serious abuses of human rights like murder, torture, amputation of ears and noses, and rape.”
Kurdish authorities reacted to the article by luring Qadir to a meeting with officials then arresting him.
On 16 December 2005, he wrote from his prison cell in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Irbil. He said, “I was arrested by a group of armed people on 23 October 2005 in Irbil. I was kidnapped without being asked for my name, or told what I had been accused of or where they were taking me. And to date, I still have no idea who issued a warrant for my arrest.”
Qadir, who was denied proper legal representation, was sentenced to 30 years in jail by a special security court for “insulting the Kurdish nation”.
In an impassioned plea from his cell, he wrote, “Oppression is one of the main features of human history… I have now become a small sample of this oppression,
deprivation and violation of my very basic rights as a human being since I have been detained.”
He is now on hunger strike. During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Qadir wrote a damning indictment of US and British designs on the country, “It is maybe pure coincidence that the history of modern Iraq has ended as it began, namely with the British occupation beginning from the south of Iraq after the First World War, ending with the invasion of British troops, this time under the leadership of their American allies.”
He warned, “If they start to play the role of an arrogant occupant and show no respect for local customs and the will of the people, they will very soon face resistance from the Iraqi people — and it will not be an easy task to rule 25 million people.”
Kurdish opposition groups fear that his health is failing and are demanding his immediate release.
For more on Kamal Sayid Qadir’s arrest go to www.kurdmedia.com