Two workers from Maxmur refugee camp controversially imprisoned by the KDP

Two workers from Maxmur refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan, Mahîr Sêrtî and Eşref Korhan, were imprisoned by the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) Asayish security organisation on 25 September whilst on their way to work.

They were released after 45 days after having given 200 dollars. They still do not know why they were detained but stated to Fırat News Agency (ANF): “We were subjected to all kinds of ill-treatment and we were kept in the same wards with ISIS members”.

The KDP has been keeping an embargo against Maxmur Refugee Camp for two years. They have arrested many camp residents and sent them to prisons. There is still no news from 16 camp residents who have been arrested after going to Hewlêr [Erbil] to work or because they are studying there. On the other hand, 4 residents have been recently released.

Mahîr Sêrtî and Eşref Korhan were released after being kept in prison in the city of Hewlêr for about 45 days. The KDP gave the order to detain them, the two residents of Maxmur told ANF.

Sêrtî said that they were stopped by the intelligence units of the Hewlêr Police Department and then detained on September 25 while going to work. “They confiscated our identities and took us to the Hewlêr Police Station. They held us there for about 25 days. We were badly harassed there, they put pressure on us, they insulted us.”

Mahîr Sêrtî added that they were thrown into a ward with approximately 55 detainees, and that some of those who were found there were ISIS mercenaries, while the rest was inside for crimes such as drug trafficking. Sêrtî said that they were thrown into small cells many times and held with their hands and feet tied for three hours. “Our hands were tied while taking the statement, they harassed us badly.”

Mahîr Sêrtî said that they were taken to prison after being held for 25 days in Hewlêr Police Department and they stayed in prison for another 15 days. “Although we were in prison, they did not allow us to talk to our families on the phone. They demanded 1 million Dinar (approximately 700 Euros) from us to let us go. We said we were workers; we didn’t have that kind of money. Then they said ‘okay, give us 200 dollars then”. After giving this money, they handed us over to Koyê Police station.”

Sêrtî said that they were released after staying a week in Koyê Police station which is affiliated to the PUK. “After being held there for a week, they released us on condition that we go to court when summoned. Our trial date is not clear yet, but in this way they kept us for 45 days with no reason.”

Eşref Korhan, who was released together with Mahîr Sêrtî, said that they were subjected to strip searches and had their hands and feet tied when they were detained. Stating that they faced swearing and insults during their first detention, Korhan continued: “It was torture in itself for them to keep us in the Police Station for 25 days. There were 55 people staying in a narrow ward and there was nothing to sleep on. Many of the detainees were members of ISIS and they were constantly listening to loud Arabic music.”

Eşref Korhan, like Mahîr Sêrtî, was handed over to Koyê Police station and released after a week of detention there. Underlining that they have been going to Hewlêr to work for about 1.5 years and that they are civilians, Korhan made a call to the South Kurdistan administration and especially to the KDP: “We do not know why they detained us. We don’t want them to look at us like enemies and treat us like the Turkish state treats us.”