Scottish politicians and academics at Glasgow University have called on authorities to release a former Glasgow University student arrested in Kurdish Iraq and charged with high treason. His arrest is part of what Amnesty International UK has called a “chilling crackdown” on activists and journalists in Kurdish Iraq.
Glasgow University adult education masters graduate, Sherwan Ameen, returned to Kurdish Iraq in 2015 with his wife – who had also graduated from the university in forensic toxicology – after their courses were complete. He hoped to play a part in rebuilding his country while bringing up his young children, now aged three and four.
However Ameen – an English language lecturer at Nawroz University in Duhok – was arrested in September 2020 and initially held without charge. For four months his family did not even know of his whereabouts, or if he was alive or dead.
He has had little access to a lawyer and was last month charged with high treason, which carries a potential death penalty. His trial, which has so far been delayed twice, is now due on 6 October.
His arrest was part of a widespread crackdown by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) against those involved in a campaign demanding better public services, payment of overdue salaries for government employees and an end to corruption.
Now SNP MP for Stirling Alyn Smith has written to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss asking her not only to join calls for the release of Ameen and others facing charges, but to intervene in helping to secure the volatile political situation in Iraqi Kurdistan.