Sunday, August 17, 2008

Son Of Kurdistan President Goes On Trial For Attempted Murder in Austria

In August 2008 Masrur Barzani, son of Kurdistan regional President Masoud Barzani, went on trial in Austria for attempted murder. In February, the younger Barzani was arrested along with five of his bodyguards in Vienna for shooting Kurdish opposition writer Dr. Kamal Sayid Qadir. Qadir was seriously injured in the incident. He is an international law expert and professor in Austria, and a critic of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Kurdish officials originally denied that Masrur was even in the country, but he is now on trial for the attack.
Qadir is a former political prisoner of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). On October 26, 2005 he was arrested in Irbil by the KDP’s intelligence service the Parastin that Masrur heads, for criticizing President Barzani in a series of articles. Some of them said that Barzani worked with Iran to the detriment of Kurdistan and that the Parastin spied on Kurds in Europe. Dr. Qadir traveled from his home in Austria to lecture about the abuses of Barzani’s rule and set up a human rights group when he was detained. In December, Qadir was given a 30-year prison term by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) for “disgracing the Kurdish leadership and their struggle,” “inappropriate articles,” and cursing the Barzani tribe. According to Dr. Qadir, his trial only took 15 minutes. Those charges were later dropped, and he was sent for re-trial in March 2006. That time he received a longer sentence of 1-1/2 years in jail. A week later he was pardoned and released. While imprisoned, he went on a hunger strike. The Austrian government, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and others, all took up his case.

After his release, Dr. Qadir filed a lawsuit against Masrur Barzani and four other KDP officials in December 2006 in Austria. The suit charged them with kidnapping and torture. Qadir also continued to write critically about Kurdish rule. In a June 2007 piece for the Middle East Quarterly, he charged the Kurdish authorities of corruption, nepotism, torture, political assassinations, and other abuses. It’s these actions that probably led to his shooting in Vienna in February 2008 by Masrur’s men.

Masrur is also in charge of the General Committee for the Security of the Kurdistan Region, a member of the KPD politburo, and might replace his father as the eventual president of the Kurdish region.

Kurdistan is by far the most secure region of Iraq. Many also consider it the most democratic, but Qadir and others have criticized the strangle hold the two ruling parties, the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) have over the political system. In April 2008 for example, President Jalal Talabani banned all members of the PUK from criticizing the Kurdish government. In January, the BBC reported on an unpublished United Nations report that said thousands of people have been arrested by Kurdish authorities for political crimes and held with no trial or lawyer. Corruption and nepotism charges have also been widespread. Masrur’s trial is the first time a senior Kurdish official has been charged, but not surprisingly it is happening in Austria, not Iraq.


Agence France Presse, “Dr. Kamal Sayid Qadir released in Kurdistan today,” 1/25/06

Aqrawi, Shamal, “Writer ‘Dr. Kamal’ jailed for defaming Kurdish leader,” Reuters, 3/27/06

Associated Press, “Kurdistan Regional Government released the Kurdish writer Dr. Kamal Karim,” 4/3/06

Assyrian International News Agency, “Assyrian Security Force Needed in Iraq’s Nineveh Plain,” 2/21/08

Chapman, Charles, “30 years in prison for writing articles criticizing KDP and Massoud Barzani,” The Is-Ought Problem, 12/20/05

Clar, Kate, “Corruption in Iraqi Kurdistan,” BBC News, 1/11/08

Committee to Protect Journalists, “Committee to Protect Journalists protests 30-year jail term for Kurdish writer,” 1/12/06

DIHA, “Erbil’s Pamuk Dr. Seid Qadir imprisoned,” 12/22/05

Economist, “Does independence beckon?” 9/6/07, “False news of Masrour Barzani’s arrests in Vienna,” 2/28/08

Hama-Tahir, Wrya, “Iraqi Kurds frustrated with own leaders, security forces,” Middle East Online, 2/18/08

Human Rights Watch, “Caught in the Whirlwind, Torture and Denial or Due Process by the Kurdistan Security Forces,” July 2007

Al Jazeera, “Iraq to help Turkey against PKK,” 10/23/07

Kurdish Media, “Kurdish lawmaker defends corruption in Kurdistan administration,” 5/26/08

Kurdistan Referendum Movement, “Amnesty International takes up the case of Dr Kamal Said Qadir,” 12/2/05
- “Kurdistan Referendum Movement condemns the arrest of Dr Kamal Said Qadir,” 11/2/05

KurdNet, “Barzani’s son Masrour Barzani arrested in Austria after attack on Dr. Kamal Qadir,” 2/21/08
- “Lawsuit filed against Masrour Barzani and 5 other officials,” 12/28/06

Kurdistan Satellite TV, “Iraqi Kurdistan President Barzani arrives in Kuwait,” Iraq, 5/12/06

Mahmood, Azeez and Mahmood, Rebaz, “Talabani Supporters Rally Over Media Controversy,” Institute For War & Peace Reporting, 4/4/08

Middle East Quarterly, “Dissident Watch: Kamal Sayid Qadir,” Spring 2006

Mirawdeli, Dr. Kamal, “Dr Kamal Sayid Qadir gets worse in health on hunger strike,” DIHA, 1/2/06

Mohsen, Amer, “Iraq Papers Wed: Scandal!,”, 8/13/08

Moore, Solomon, “Free Press Stumbles in Kurdistan,” Los Angeles Times, 3/27/06

Naqishbendi, Rauf, “Iraq: Flourishing corruption under American occupation,” Kurdish Media, 6/26/08

Qadir, Dr. Kamal, “Iraqi Kurdistan’s Downward Spiral,” Middle East Quarterly, 6/13/07

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “Iraq: Kurdish Intellectual Faces A Second Trial,” 3/7/06
- “Iraq: Kurdish Expert Comments on Defamation Case,” 1/30/06

Reporters Without Borders, “Reporters Without Borders wrote to President Barzani to intervene in Dr. Kamal case,” 1/9/06


Anonymous said...

Source for the trial? Haven't read it in the Kurdish media.

Joel Wing said...

I originally read about the trial on IraqSlogger:

Mohsen, Amer, “Iraq Papers Wed: Scandal!,”, 8/13/08

I didn't post a link because it's a subscription site and you can only access the stories for a few days free.

Bahoz Zel said...

Kamal Sayyid Qaddir has lied about his academic credentials, he has taken translation courses in Vienna and claims that he is an "expert" on international law
Kamal Sayyid Qaddir went to Kurdistan and tried to land a job as a professor at one of Kurdistan's universities and when he was denied a job, he began materializing on an already deeply-felt resentment toward the Kurdistan Regional Government
Kamal Sayyid Qaddir was a chat room boy prior to his clash with the KRG
Kamal Sayyid Qaddir has never been published in any respected publications (his journalistic experience is solely a shady online one)

Anonymous said...

Mr. Kamal Sayyid Qaddir is a self-hating Kurd whose ego has been the primary motive of all of his attacks on his people and their elected leaders.

No official newsgroup or Austrian authority has ever reported anything to this effect, and the fact that you have published this story only hurts your credibility as an Iraq observer.

Vahal Abdulrahman
Boston, Massachusetts

Anonymous said...

This blog reminds me of those tabloids that sit next to the bubble gum at the checkout line in your local grocery store.

Where did you get this news from? Sounds bogus.

Yes, Kamal Sayyid Qader shouldn't have been arrested in Kurdistan so I was glad to see the Kurdistan Regional Govt-KRG released him shortly after. However, I am shocked at how many people attribute so much credibility to the guy. He makes all sorts of claims about the KRG in his articles and backs it up with nothing. It's surprising to me how many Kurds follow this guy so blindly...

Joel Wing said...

I've been looking through English language sources for more on this story and haven't been able to find any. I can only pass along the following information for those that are inerested.

1) I first heard that Barzani was going on trial on IraqSlogger. The story is no longer available for free because it is a subscription site.

The story about the trial was in a column that runs through Arabic media on Iraq. It said the original story appeared in Lebanon's al-Akhbar newspaper.

2) Barzani and his bodyguards were arrested in Austria in February 2008 for attacking Qadis. Here's a few reports that I've found.

Assryian International News Agency:

(AINA) -- On Feb. 20, 2008, Uruknet1 and the Kurdistan Post2 reported that Masroor Barzani, son of the Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani, was arrested in Austria for an assassination attempt against Kurdish journalist and outspoken critic of the KRG, Mr. Kamal Sayid Kadir.3 Mr. Kadir was arrested and detained for several months in 2005 in the KRG Region for harsh criticism of the Kurdish government and political parties.

"The Future Of The Iraqi Kurds" Soner Cagaptya, Washington Institute

In a high-profile individual case, following a concerted local and international media campaign, the prominent journalist and political activist Kamal Said Kadir was released from a two-year detention in 2007. Now in exile in Vienna,
he was allegedly assaulted there in February 2008 by a bodyguard of Masrur Barzani, the KDP intelligence chief (who is also KRG president Massoud Barzani’s son and heir apparent), resulting in an Austrian arrest warrant against the bodyguard. This information was
immediately reported in the online Kurdish media, eliciting a public apology on Kurdish television by the younger Barzani a few weeks later.

The Corner, National Review

Report: Masrour Barzani Arrested in Austria [Michael Rubin]

There are a number of reports—and I have received a number of phone calls and e-mails—reporting that Masrour Barzani, son of Iraqi Kurdish leader Masud Barzani and the chief of KDP intelligence, and his bodyguards either shot and/or beat leading Kurdish anti-corruption activist Kamal Said Qadir in Austria yesterday. Reports suggest they are now in prison. Here's a link in Kurdish to the incident, and some background from The Corner in 2006 on the interaction between the two. Masud Barzani still paints himself as the face of democracy in Iraqi Kurdistan, but Kurds complain about ongoing abuses by his sons akin to that once perpetrated by Uday and Qusay Hussein. If this latest incident involving Masrour Barzani is true, it will underlie such Kurdish associations and raise questions among ordinary Iraqi Kurds about the blind eye the State Department is turning to civil abuses in Iraqi Kurdistan and the lawlessness of some of its figures.


Barzani's son Masrour Barzani arrested in Austria after attack on Dr. Kamal Qadir 21.2.2008

Vienna, Austria, -- Kurdistan Post reported that the Austrian police arrested on Tuesday Masrour Barzani, the director of Kurdistan security agency, son of Kurdistan president Massoud Barzani and his five bodyguards after shooting Austrian - Kurdish origin - opposition writer and Human rights activist Dr Kamal Sayid Qadir.

The newspaper reporter tried to contact the hospital, the information is that Mr. Qadir is seriously wounded and he is right now in a critical condition, unable to speak. In a telephone call with Kurdistan post, Qadir confirmed the incident and said "five bodyguards and Masrour Barzani attacked me and seriously wounded, they were arrested immediately by the Austrian police"

An eyewitness said on condition of anonymity, that "the incident happened in the Zone 1 in central Vienna and Masrour's bodyguards attacked Dr. Qadir" and "Masrour Barzani was near the attack".

According to KDP officials, Mr. Masrour Barzani is not in Austria and this incident has been fabricated against him and he will return to Kurdistan soon.

Mr. Qadir was arrested and imprisoned in Kurdistan – Iraq, for criticizing Massoud Barzani, his case is registered in Amnesty International “Incommunicado detention/fear of torture or ill-treatment: Kamal Sayid Qadir“.
Masrour Barzani (R), director of Kurdistan Security Agency arrested in Vienna in murder attempt charge of Dr. Kamal Said Qadir, Austrian citizen, an international legal expert, writer and human rights activist

Dr. Qadir, aged 50, was allegedly arrested on October 26, 2005 by members of Parastin, the security intelligence service of the KDP party leads by Massoud Barzani, the president of Kurdistan region-Iraq , because of articles he had published on the Internet in the weeks prior to his return to Iraqi Kurdistan. He has been detained incommunicado in Iraqi Kurdistan ever since.

In December 2005, Dr. Kamal Said Qadir was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the "crimes," allegedly based on the law of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Anonymous said...

I believe an Austrian court recently charged Barzani, but I doubt he'll ever go back there to find out how serious the charge is.... And the spicy part of the Qadir story is he alleged that Masrur hired prostitutes to spy on him and other Kurds in Austria. Perhaps it's true, who knows!

Anonymous said...

Why you guys don't have Austrian sources for this? Haven't read anywhere about a trial.

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